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Safety Drills – Beauty or Beast?

06.21.16

A couple of years ago, the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, did what many state governors have done in the wake of such tragedies as the Sandy Hook and Chardon school shootings. He assigned a school safety task force to assess the current state of affairs and make recommendations to enhance school safety and security while leveraging best practices from a variety of sources.

While those tragedies served as a wake-up call to legislators and school administrators, the state of Michigan was, according to a Michigan media investigation, woefully negligent conducting and documenting required safety drills. The task force placed a high priority on ensuring student and staff safety, but also making sure that schools were being held accountable in the process.

Signed into law in 2014, House Bill No.4713, also referred to as Public Act 12, sets forth detailed requirements for the type, quantity, timing and conditions for safety drills to be conducted throughout the school year. Additionally, it requires schools to document the drills and post them to the district website within 30 days of completion. Further, by September 15 each year, school districts must submit to county emergency agencies their list of scheduled drill days for all buildings in the district.

While there’s no arguing with the value of safety drills and the transparency and accountability school administrators should have when it comes to the safety of staff and students, there is some concern over the amount of time, resourced and general busy work associated with implementing and maintaining safety compliance procedures. Working with hundreds of schools across numerous states, we see the challenges associated with creating and mapping floor plans; deciphering compliance requirements and turning them into safety plans; creating and maintaining call lists; and scheduling, documenting, logging, tracking, posting, sharing and communicating safety drills. You begin to wonder how the staff can focus on safety with so much busy work!

Technology can help. Spreadsheets, email and Google Docs are far better than Post-it notes and wall calendars, but let’s take it a little further. Let’s use technology designed for this exact situationand let’s help Michigan administrators and staff bring the focus back to safety…to executing drills…to being as prepared as possible for school emergencies.

Look at just one aspect of Michigan’s safety drill requirements – “…that documentation of a completed school safety drill is posted on its website within 30 school days after the drill is completed and is maintained on the website for at least 3 years.” Have you ever had to get your IT depart to post a document on your website? No offense to IT departments, but this type of request falls somewhere between the bottom of the pile and the wad of gum stuck to their shoe on their list of priorities. So, let’s spare IT and you the hassle and provide a solution that allows office staff to log a drill online, click one little button and “Voila!” it’s posted to the website.

Let’s remove the opportunity for school administrators to be overwhelmed or over-burdened by the tasks associated with safety compliance. As Governor Snyder intends, let’s focus on giving parents peace of mind in knowing their children and school officials are trained and prepared for possible school emergencies.

Looking for an opportunity to streamline safety-related tasks and put the focus back on safety? Click the button below to learn how.

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