School safety is all-encompassing. It impacts school spaces, staff, students, families, and entire communities. Safety covers everything from the most violent incidents to facilities issues. All are important, as is ensuring every stakeholder is involved.
You can read any of these articles for more detail, but here’s a quick snapshot of how each factor impacts school safety.
As noted above, there are many stakeholders in school safety. The staff has much at stake, as do students and families. Outside agencies and organizations may also be involved, such as first responders, healthcare workers, and law enforcement agencies.
These stakeholders want what is best for students, staff, and the community. Therefore, they all need to be adequately resourced with the necessary tools to play their parts.
All stakeholders who can make decisions or take action on school safety need appropriate access to data and insights to identify issues and take the following steps. And all stakeholders — even those who do not make decisions — need the training to ensure they can handle any safety processes, including reporting. Quick identification of safety threats is vital to averting or resolving issues.
In a school safety incident, time is of the essence. A simplified process ensures that decisions are made quickly with accountability, escalation, delegation, collaboration, reporting, resolution, review, and improvement built into the framework.
A knowledgebase is one fundamental way to simplify and move quickly. It allows stakeholders to see the answers to common questions or next steps for known situations. These simplified steps ensure that everyone knows their role and the roles of others, who is in authority, how to respond, and who to contact.
School safety concerns could involve facilities, behavioral issues, fights, bullying, self-harm, substance abuse, or weapons. Another category to address is positive behavior, which is worth noting and rewarding. Your tracking and reporting system should allow for robust management of incidents of all types.
Unless something exists in a report or database, it might as well not exist. Word of mouth and inefficient paperwork around school safety concerns is a considerable risk and a liability. With a robust tracking system, quick submissions, solid documentation, and trending data are at hand, not lost on a desk.
Further, this information lets decision-makers triage quickly and efficiently. Issues of concern move quickly with a digital system, so nothing is forgotten or inadvertently left out.
Using a system like Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), every important issue is escalated when it needs closer attention and is dealt with by the correct person. While some safety issues require a more general approach, others require complex intervention. A tracking and monitoring system lets decision-makers know what needs to be escalated, when, and to whom.
Sometimes when decision-makers escalate issues, those concerns move outside of the domain of the school or district, involving outside agencies. Certain privacy laws applicable to this information. In most cases, details of an incident are on a need-to-know basis. Therefore, it’s essential to use a system built around privacy so your school or district does not violate privacy regulations.
All stakeholders must be involved in and care about school safety for accountability. Unfortunately, too many well-known school safety incidents have left parents, communities, and other stakeholders calling for accountability from others. If you take steps to make data-driven school safety decisions, you can be accountable for the ways students and families need.
Looking at averted or resolved school safety incidents, it is clear that school climate and the ability to report play a significant role. Learn from ‘near misses’ by making it as simple as possible for students to report safety concerns and by intervening on potential issues early. Also, make time to celebrate the successes of your students, staff, and schools — the investment in school climate and morale will lead to better educational outcomes and safer schools.
When superintendents and administrators use modern, reliable tools for reporting, monitoring, and tracking safety, data comes from those reports. That data is key to making evidence-based decisions around school safety.
GroupLink’s platforms, including GroupLink for SafestSchools, GroupLink Workflow Process & Incident Tracking, and GroupLink everything HelpDesk, will help your team accomplish this. Our programs increase student safety and operational efficiency, collaboration, and accountability, while significantly reducing liability and risk associated with safety issues.
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