Summer is here, school is out, and many of us are left with newfound free time. Many of us may find ourselves vacationing with our friends and family, but for those of us who work in school communities, summer is also a time to plan and learn. Here are 5 ways you can continue to improve school safety this summer:
1) Assess, Act, and Audit. To assess, act, and audit, download the Straight-A Safety Toolkit for free to begin taking steps toward rethinking and improving school safety in your school community. Our free toolkits are designed to facilitate conversations, problem-solving, and partnerships in your school community. Learn about threats, components to an assessment, strategies, security oversights, layers of security, and more. You’ll also have access to activities, drills, and other exercises. Use the summer to evaluate where your school stands on the safety spectrum and take steps toward improving plans and practices for the new school year.
2) Attend a school safety or security conference. Safety and security conferences are great educational opportunities, capable of providing you with new perspectives, ideas, and approaches to school safety. In addition to to educational opportunities like workshops and presentations, conferences also facilitate networking opportunities with other individuals in the field. Meet the experts, network with peers, and consider visiting some of the vendors to learn more about security solutions. You’ll not only be investing in your career development but you’ll also be able to bring new ideas to the table when the school year begins. Interested in seeing our co-founder Michele Gay speak? She’ll be at the Campus Safety Conference this month. Learn more here.
3) Hold a staff training or workshop. Invite a Safe and Sound Speaker to your summer safety affair. From mental health, to bullying prevention, to social emotional learning, to reunification and recovery, Safe and Sound Schools has speakers that will work with your team to educate and bring new perspectives and ideas. As an exciting side note, we are in process of updating our Speaker’s Bureau with more speakers! If there is a topic you’d like to see, please share your feedback with us.
4) Build relationships. Summer is a perfect time to mix and mingle and bring school safety stakeholders together. Help first responders, school resource officers, and other safety teams get to know each other. This can be an informal luncheon for safety stakeholders, combining the laid back and social aspect of summer with discussion, collaboration and planning for the new school year.
5) Update ICE cards. It only takes a couple minutes. Print or make a new “in case of an emergency” card and fill in current contact information. Make sure to include a primary contact, a secondary contact, and an out-of-town contact for your student. You can also include other important details like medical conditions and allergies. Make at least two copies, one for students to keep in their backpack/wallet and another to share with their teacher/school. And while we tend to think of ICE cards as a resource for students, teachers can also benefit from having one of their own. Include an emergency contact, the principal’s phone number, a local police number, and a doctor’s name and phone number. Other details like allergies and medical conditions can also be included. And since we live in a time where some of us have ditched paper and embraced technology, don’t forget that smart phones also allow us to store and share ICE information on our mobile devices. Make sure to update those too.
If you have any other suggestions on how school communities can continue to improve school safety over the summer, feel free to share your ideas with our community by commenting below, connecting with us on social media, or sending us an email. Don’t forget to subscribe if you’d like to see more content like this. Here’s to a safe, fun, and productive rest of your summer!
Many of our Safe and Sound Schools are already out for summer and my kids are literally counting the days until school ends here. I have just about finalized our summer trips, camps, and activities, but there is one thing that still has me panicked a little.
Yes, I said it. And I’m not the only one thinking it. Our lives are highly structured during the school year between school, sports, music, art, church, family and social obligations. What will my family do with the gift of their free time this summer?
I am picturing berry picking, swimming, reading (actual books), and playing games together. But the reality is that each one of us is likely to spend a great deal of this newfound free time with our smartphones, laptops, and gaming devices. So how do I help my family make the most of their free time, balancing time online and off? And how do I ensure that the time they spend online is safe as well as fun?
We reached out to one of our favorite online safety resources, the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) for a list of tips and helpful resources for fun and safe summer online…
1. Develop a family contract for online and electronic use. While a safety contract is great for kids, it’s also helpful for parents. In fact, for each set of rules, parents will have to make a set of promises, too. We believe online safety is a partnership, and it works better when parents and their children are in it together.
2. Monitor online usage and contacts. It’s good practice to friend and follow your kids on social media, but don’t stalk them. You can still protect your kids from the harms of the Internet while respecting their online space.
3. Be a good digital role model. Kids learn a lot from their parents, so model the type of behaviors you’d like to see your kids pick up. Curb you own bad digital habits, know when to unplug and show your kids how to collaborate and create online.
4. Share the screen. Spend time online together learning what interests your child and talking about what you discover and want to avoid along the way.
5. Spot trolls and temptations. We are in trying times online. Bad behavior such as cyberbullying, doxing, swatting and online harassment have made headlines. Fake news stories are in the forefront and online trolls have become increasingly more popular. It is important to teach your kids how to spot these trolls and instances of fake news. Educate them on reliable news sources and have them understand that just because something is on the internet, doesn’t necessarily make it true.
Some resources to check out…
Learn more about FOSI
FOSI offers a range of resources including the 7 Steps to Good Digital Parenting, Three Teachable Moments and Cleaning Up Your Digital Footprint tools.
Happy 4th of July. I hope you are reveling in the warm summer days. Whether you have just finished up the year, or are preparing to return, it’s never too early to think about how to do better in the next school year.
Our teachers are already thinking about new lesson plans and teaching strageties. Our parents want to help their students be more successful in the new school year. And our administrators are looking at ways to improve the educational experience and overall school performance.
Here at Safe and Sound Schools, we never stop thinking about ways to improve school safety. That’s why this summer, we’re providing daily tips to help provide you with some new ideas. Check out our #100DaysofSafety campaign on social media. It just takes one small idea to make a big difference.
During these few shorts weeks of summer, we wish peace and quiet, time with your loved ones, and an opportunity to rethink school safety and recharge for the year ahead.
Keep up with #100DaysOfSafety on our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
– Michele Gay
June is already drawing to a close. Most of us are still wondering, “How did the school year go by so quickly?”
Maybe we’re just getting older. In our defense, I hear the kids saying it too.
It’s the sign of a great school year.
Teachers are closing up their classrooms, parents are pushing the sunscreen, and kids are switching to low power mode. It’s summer.
Yet some of us are already looking ahead to next school year. In fact at Safe and Sound Schools, summer means getting to work with some of our favorite community members: administrators, safety directors, school officials, emergency managers, law enforcement, and school resource officers.
This June, Alissa and I met with law enforcement officers in Florida, SRO’s in Tennessee and Wyoming, and will soon head to California to meet with emergency managers and responders.
I first spoke to a room full of these folks in April of 2013 at the Massachusetts Juvenile Police Officers Association (MJPOA), in Norwood, Massachusetts. Though the President of the organization, now a great friend, insisted that my message be brought to the group of 400+ SRO’s, I really wasn’t sure what I had to offer.
I’m a mom, a former teacher, and the mother of three beautiful girls. My youngest was killed at Sandy Hook on December 14, 2012. My second survived, hiding in a closet with her teacher and classmates, and my oldest waited in “hard lockdown” for hours for news that she would never receive: that we were all alright.
Yes, I have a story. I can grab the heart of a room full of people with it. But I wondered, “What do I have for trained safety professionals?” “How can I help them do what they are trained and called to do?”
That April morning, I stepped up to the podium to address a room full of SRO’s. I wondered if they could see me standing behind it. I felt so small.
I opened my mouth and the words came out. My experience, my perspective, my observations. It was what I had to offer.
It was the beginning of a relationship between school resource officers and our fledgling foundation, Safe and Sound Schools. Since that day, folks like these have taken my experience and Alissa’s, our perspective and our observations, and made schools and communities safer.
Since that spring, we have steadily reserved our summers for law enforcement, emergency managers, school safety teams, and school resource officers. By listening and learning from them, I can develop more powerful resources to make it easier for them to be effective in schools. For example, SROs have a better understanding of how to speak to teachers, students and parents. They also feel appreciated by the community.
This year, it was our privilege to offer full day Safe and Sound School training to the SRO’s of Tennessee and Wyoming, and to share our story with the many of the finest law enforcement officers in Florida.
We’ll continue with these efforts and close the month with the emergency mangers of California. Together, by working with our School Resource Officers, we can accomplish great things.
So yes, summer is finally here, but our work for a safer school year–for safer futures–It’s only just begun.
– Michele Gay