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!
Last week took me out on the road again but in the most familiar territory, my home state of Maryland.
Safe and Sound Schools joined the Maryland Center for School Safety on a cross-the- state tour of school safety training for Maryland educators, leaders, law enforcement, fire, and mental health professionals.
Our trip and our training was a gift—literally. Last February Safe and Sound Schools was awarded a grant from Maryland based non-profit, BFG Community Foundation to focus our efforts and our attention on the Maryland schools.
And that’s just what we did. Together with the Maryland Center, we launched our first Maryland School Safety Initiative. We’ve been working jointly for a year now, bringing national and local leadership and Safe and Sound resources to Maryland schools.
This work culminated in a teaching and training tour, Beyond Tragedy: Preparing the Maryland Schools for a Safer Tomorrow. We brought together a team of national and local educators and trainers, travelling from Cambridge to Fredrick, to Annapolis, connecting us with many of Maryland’s finest and most dedicated leaders and school safety professionals.
Bill Modzeleski, Safe and Sound Advisor and Former Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, joined us to moderate the event. Bill’s national perspective and years of experience in the field set the tone for three successful days.
Dan Jewiss, CT law enforcement expert, offered his professional insights on improved emergency response and caring for victims, co-workers, and self in the aftermath of tragedy.
I followed with my personal perspective as a former teacher and Sandy Hook parent, touching on lessons learned in prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. But I can’t help but feel that it’s the indomitable spirit of my daughter Joey that was most meaningful to bring to each group.
Ben Fernandez, lead school psychologist, crisis team leader, and trainer for the National Association of School Psychologists shared professional insights and experiences, as well as familiarity with many of the local school safety and mental health challenges our Maryland schools face.
Ed Clarke and Dino Pignataro of the Maryland Center for School Safety joined us in discussion throughout the day and provided three fantastic training sites for the event. Their leadership and relationships with school safety practitioners and leaders across Maryland made this joint venture possible.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about an event like this for all of us was the opportunity to engage with the local experts and communities we are so honored to serve. Safe and Sound brings national and local experts and community members together. It’s our mission and our passion. Still, to watch it happen in communities across the country and in Maryland is a great honor and a true inspiration.
Thank you to the BFG Community Foundation, The Maryland Center for School Safety, and the many professionals that joined us across Maryland.
It’s amazing what we can do when we come together.
Michele Gay, Co-founder & Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools
Don Bridges (left), president of the National Association of School Resource Officers is pictured with Michele Gay, co-founder and executive director of Safe and Sound Schools, at the Campus Safety East Conference in Washington, D.C.
Safe and Sound Schools is honored to partner with Campus Safety Magazine as a proud sponsor of the Third Annual Campus Safety Conferences in the East and West.
The Campus Safety East Conference kicked off in Washington, D.C. on July 25-26. The Safe and Sound Schools team was in attendance.
About the Conferences
The Campus Safety Conferences bring together industry thought leaders and solution providers. Education and training workshops cover a wide range of topics including emergency preparedness, threat assessment, crisis communication, sexual assault, social media monitoring, mental health, and more. Presenters offer best practices, drawing on real experiences, events, and current safety concerns. In addition to attending conference sessions, attendees have the opportunity to participate in hot topic discussions and meet with companies showcasing safety and security products, services and technologies.
Attend the Campus Safety West Conference
It’s not too late to mix and mingle with school safety experts and industry colleagues. The Campus Safety Conferences offer a great opportunity for attendees to hear from a variety perspectives. Interested folks can still sign up for the Campus Safety West Conference, in Long Beach, California, taking place this August 9-10.
As with the Campus Safety East Conference, our team will also be attending the Campus Safety West Conference. Stop by our booth and use the hashtag #CSWest16 so we can learn about your experience.
As the end of the school year nears, we sometimes forget about school safety. But for those of us sending or thinking about sending our children to summer camp, safety remains a priority. If you’ve sent your child to camp before, you may be familiar with many items on this list, if you’re a new, we’ve got you covered.
Your approach to summer camp safety should be no different than your approach to school safety. So whether you are preparing to send your child to summer camp or looking into possible programs, take a look at the summer camp safety checklist below:
Review the Camp – Think about touring the camp, speaking with a reference, and doing a little background investigation to determine whether the camp is accredited and if it adheres to safety and health standards as mandated by the state and/or city.
Camp Staff – Consider asking about the screening process, as well as staff experience and training. Are staff members subject to background checks and/or drug tests? What types of training are staff required to participate in and what types of certifications do they have? For example, are they familiar with first-aid and CPR? What about emergency training and behavior management? If there are swimming activities are there certified lifeguards?
Emergency Plans – Perhaps one of the most pressing concerns: do you have emergency plans in place? Ask about the types of emergency preparedness plans in place and communication procedures. What types of threats is the camp prepared for? How will parents be notified? Are there reunification plans in place?
Field Trip Safety – Ask about methods of transportation and how field trips are managed. Will camp members split into groups? How do group supervisors/chaperones communicate with each other? What is the adult to child ratio? Is there a buddy system? What is the protocol for a lost camper?
Sun Safety – During the summer children are subject to sunburns and heat exhaustion, how will the camp mitigate this issue? Remember that some camps don’t allow staff members to touch campers, so consider packing a spray-on sunscreen or asking beforehand.
Food Safety – What types of snacks/meals are typically served and how does the camp accommodate campers with food allergies? Does the camp have EpiPens and are there medical staff onsite prepared to deal with food allergy emergencies?
Medical Staff – Are there licensed medical professionals on site? What kinds of issues and procedures are they prepared to deal with? Don’t forget to inform them of any medical issues and instructions.
As you review the checklist, remember to voice any concerns you have with your camp director. Have a safe and sound summer!