The pandemic pushed child hunger to record levels- even in the wealthiest areas of the US. Now, there is a growing concern that cafeterias will be hit hard by supply chain issues, labor shortages, and other challenges as schools welcome students back this Fall. Read on for more.

Schools are struggling to secure food for student breakfasts and lunches ahead of classrooms’ planned reopening in the fall.

Some cafeterias are cutting menu choices as food suppliers face labor shortages and transportation challenges that are adding costs and limiting supplies. Food distributors and school officials say they expect to run low on everything from canned fruit to lunch trays, and some worry that the lack of options will deter students from getting meals at school.

Across the country, school cafeterias are preparing to welcome back students after running hybrid or remote learning operations for much of the past school year, when they offered prepackaged or to-go food. Many now find themselves at the center of supply-chain woes gripping the broader food industry: Manufacturers are cutting flavors or halting production because of capacity problems, while some distributors dropped deliveries to schools. Some school districts are struggling to hire cooks.

Read this full article in the Wall Street Journal: ‘Supply-Chain Woes Come to School Cafeterias’

Survey conducted by Safe and Sound Schools and Raptor Technologies shows only 65% of parents believe schools are proactively improving safety awareness versus 95% of School Administrators

NEWTOWN, CTJuly 13, 2021 – A report developed by Safe and Sound Schools and Raptor Technologies, based on a nationwide survey of school district administrators, public safety staff, teachers, parents, and students, has identified significant gaps in attitudes about school safety. The 2021 State of School Safety Report shows students and parents are less confident than administrators in critical areas, including a 30-point gap when asked if their school takes a proactive approach to safety awareness.  Concerns include how proactive schools are regarding student and campus security, how the school community would respond in a campus emergency, and preparedness to reunify children with guardians following a crisis.

The report reveals a distinct difference in understanding of the steps schools are taking to address parent and student concerns about safety. Additionally, the survey generated feedback on topics such as how schools handled the COVID-19 pandemic, apprehension about the mental health of returning students, and the overall preparedness of schools to handle emergencies.

As students return to the classroom this coming fall, concerns around safety and security are top of mind.  The most significant discrepancy demonstrated by the survey was the level of confidence district administrators and security personnel have in tackling safety issues compared to the confidence levels of students and parents. For instance, where 86% of administrators feel prepared for an active shooter event in their district, only 51% of parents and 44% of students feel the same. Additionally, where 85% of security personnel and 87% of administrators feel prepared to handle mental health emergencies, only 44% of students and 45% of parents feel that school districts have the right resources in place.

“In all the years of doing this report, this is the largest disparity between respondent groups that we have seen,” said Michele Gay, Founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools. “The report highlights there is a real disconnect, or perhaps a lack of communication, between districts and families, which the pandemic may have exacerbated.”

Other key findings from the survey include: 

  • 98% of administrators believe they handled the COVID-19 crisis well, whereas only 74% of parents agree
  • 89% of district safety personnel agree that they have a plan for post-emergency reunification of students and guardians, whereas only 45% of parents agree
  • 92% of administrators feel they have adequate safety measures within their district, and only 67% of parents agree
  • 91% of district safety personnel state that they have a distinct safety plan for children with special needs, whereas only 70% of parents agree

“This report makes it clear that districts need to improve communication within their communities on how they plan to deal with emergencies and mental health challenges in the coming school year,” stated Gray Hall, CEO of Raptor Technologies. “There is an opportunity to help parents and students better understand the measures school districts are actively taking to tackle these problems through policies, procedures, and technologies that keep kids safe.”

The Safe and Sound Schools and Raptor Technologies “2021 State of School Safety Report” summarizes findings from surveying a nationwide sample of 615 parents of school-aged children and 599 middle and high-school students (including diversity of age, geography, race, and gender), 512 school stakeholders (including teachers, administrators, staff, and school-based wellness and behavioral health professionals), and 374 public safety officials with a sampling error range of +/-4 to 5 percentage points. The Boston University College of Communication compiled the interviews and data.

Safe and Sound Schools will host a live broadcast discussion on July 15 at the National Association of School Resources Officers (NASRO) National School Safety Conference in Orlando, Florida. Panelists include Mo Canady, Executive Director, NASRO; Susan Payne, Founder, and Former Executive Director, Safe2Tell; Elizabeth Brown, Principal, Forest High School, Ocala, FL; Donna Michaelis, Director, Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety; and Ian A. Moffett, retired Chief of School Police and District Security, Miami-Dade County Public Schools. To register, visit the State of School Safety Live Panel.

 To download a copy of the report, go to the 2021 State of School Safety Report


About Safe and Sound Schools

Michele Gay and Alissa Parker founded Safe and Sound Schools in 2013, following the tragic deaths of their children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to create and ensure the safest possible learning environment for all youth. The non-profit organization delivers crisis-prevention, response, and recovery programs, tools, and resources, backed by national experts, to educate all school community members, from students and parents to teachers and administrators, to law enforcement and local leaders. Winner of the 2015 New England Business Association Innovation Award for non-profits, Safe and Sound Schools continues to answer the growing needs of school communities with custom programs, assessments, and training, reaching schools in every state in the country. For more information, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org.

About Raptor Technologies®

Raptor Technologies is driven by its mission to protect every child, every school, every day. Founded in 2002, Raptor has partnered with over 35,000 K-12 U.S. schools to provide integrated visitor, volunteer, and emergency management software, fulfilling a broad range of school safety requirements. Raptor also offers contactless COVID-19 health screenings and contact tracing reports, helping schools reopen and keep students, staff, and visitors safe. To learn more about Raptor Technologies, visit: www.raptortech.com

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As the Delta variant brings rising concern around COVID-19, communities are focusing on how the strain will impact reopening efforts for schools.  Should you be worried about the variant?  How quickly could the virus spread among kids who aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated? Read on for answers to the biggest questions about the Delta variant.

If you are fully vaccinated and sending your kids off to camp or inviting their friends to sleep over, you might almost — almost — feel like the nightmare that was the COVID-19 pandemic is finally in the rearview mirror.

But dare to share this sentiment on a work call or with other parents on the playground and chances are some killjoy is going to bring up the dreaded Delta variant.

Delta originated in India and scientists estimate that it is 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant from the United Kingdom, which in turn is 50% more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain.

Read this full article in the Los Angeles Times: What the Delta variant means for unvaccinated kids

The CDC released new COVID guidelines for schools. The agency’s advice on mask-wearing, vaccinations, and social distancing comes amid concerns about the Delta variant. Read on for the biggest suggestions that will impact schools reopening this Fall.

With less than a month to go before many schools begin reopening for the fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released new guidelines for preventing Covid-19 transmission in schools.

The guidelines outline numerous strategies that schools can take to help keep students, teachers and staff members safe, including masking, weekly screening testing and social distancing. But the agency also stressed that schools should fully reopen even if they were not able to put in effect all of these measures.

The agency also left much of the decision-making up to local officials, urging them to consider community transmission rates, vaccination coverage and other factors. This approach won praise from some experts, who said that this more nuanced approach makes sense at this stage of the pandemic — but criticism from others, who said that state and local officials were not equipped to make those judgments and needed clearer guidance. Here are answers to some common questions about the new guidance.

Read this full article in the New York Times: What Parents Need to Know About the C.D.C.’s Covid School Guidelines

You’ve heard of the digital divide during the pandemic. Now that schools are finally reopening for Summer school programs, there’s another problem plaguing the millions of students trying to learn – the heat. Read on for more.

Human bodies react swiftly when they overheat. Blood rushes to the skin, trying to find cool air. Sweat seeps out of the skin and evaporates, dissipating body heat. But these processes have a cost: they reduce blood circulation, which means our most important organ, the brain, gets less blood.

“And with reduced brain blood flow, we have reduced brain function,” said Tony Wolf, a researcher at Penn State University who studies how the body reacts to heat.In short, heat can lower our cognition. But it doesn’t take a PhD to know this. Just ask middle school students.

Researchers have long known about heat’s profound impact on the human body – and found a pretty effective way to combat it: air conditioning. But nearly a century later a huge portion of American classrooms are still sweltering hot and don’t have air conditioning. And new research is showing that the ramifications are devastating: the more hot school days there are, the less students learn – and the effect is noticeably worse for students of color.

Read this full article in the Guardian: ‘How the US lets hot school days sabotage learning’