Very seldom do we ask what we can do as PARENTS to make a DIFFERENCE, often we put the task of school safety on administrators and educators. In all likelihood involved parents may have a greater impact on student safety and threat prevention than any other group.
Child Trends, a non-profit organization, has done some remarkable research showing the need for parent involvement at schools. Here is a short excerpt from one of their studies:
Students with parents who are involved in their school tend to have fewer behavioral problems and better academic performance, and are more likely to complete high school than students whose parents are not involved in their school.
Positive effects of parental involvement have been demonstrated at both the elementary and secondary levels across several studies, with the largest effects often occurring at the elementary level.
A recent meta-analysis showed that parental involvement in school life was more strongly associated with high academic performance for middle schoolers than helping with homework.
Involvement allows parents to monitor school and classroom activities, and to coordinate their efforts with teachers to encourage acceptable classroom behavior and ensure that the child completes schoolwork.
Teachers of students with highly involved parents tend to give greater attention to those students, and they are more likely to identify at earlier stages problems that might inhibit student learning.
Parental involvement in school, and positive parent-teacher interactions, have also been found to positively affect teachers’ self-perception and job satisfaction.
Research shows that students perform better in school if their fathers as well as their mothers are involved, regardless of whether the father lives with the student or not.
A teacher asked, "If there is an active threat, how should I alert the school?” The response, “every possible means.”
An effective communication plan is the most overlooked part of an emergency plan. The best communications plan is layered with redundancy. Each individual needs the ability to communicate to the outside and also have the ability to receive communications from the outside. In the military they use what is called a P.A.C.E. plan (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency). The principle is to have multiple methods to communicate in case one method is not available or fails. Additionally, communication needs to touch those that can listen and make a difference with the information they receive and respond effectively.
In the majority of situations there is no thought put into a communications plan. In every situation, every incident and emergency, having effective communications makes all the difference. Too much time, money and energy is wasted on things that have limited impact on emergencies, or impact very specific situations. Creating a communications plan will empower each individual in any given situation and ultimately have the greatest impact on saving lives.
In an organization you have an employee, other employees, administration, and first responders that need to be tied into the communications plan. Most important is assessing how each individual can get a message out regardless of where they are located in the facility. Secondly, how a message can be sent to each individual from a central location regardless of their location. Next, how does the message reach first responders in real time. Lastly, how to maintain ongoing communications throughout the incident until the situation is resolved. In some cases multiples means of communications are used to address each of these. There are some technologies that exist, which provide ability to do all the above, but be cautious to not create a single point of failure. A school recently spent a lot of money on a communication system that provided the means to communicate with all there people in a variety of ways. The system was great, however only a single person in a single location could send a message. This creates a single point of failure and creates a critical situation when that person does not have all the right information. This is similar to systems in hospitals across the nation. They are dependent on one person to share the right information at the right time, to everyone.
While conducting training at a local school, the question was asked, “if there is an active threat how should I alert the school?” The response, “every possible means.” However if there was an isolated medical incident, a call to 911 may be sufficient. Many organizations conduct drills on a regular basis, but do not practice communicating during those drills. Employees follow pre-determined plans, which does not truly train and enhance preparedness. It would be more effective to setup scenarios where different methods of communications were required to be used to navigate through a specific emergency.
Bottom line. A redundant plan that connects all the right people initially, during and after an incident happens.
Article written by:
CEO Tresit Group
Former Military Officer
Special thanks to the Ch. 4 News team! Here is some great coverage and an amazing article written by Andrew Reeser.
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah (News4Utah) - With the push of a button, Canyon View Elementary school principal Kierstin Draper alerted every teacher and student in the building they needed to lock the doors, turn off the lights and get out of sight.
The message was sent and received in two seconds. The school was locked down and deemed secure in two and a half minutes.
It was a drill, but in a real-life situation, lives could have been spared.
The security application DIR-S (pronounced "duress") acts as a virtual panic button and allows teachers and administrators to alert the entire school in the event of an emergency. Example: a suspicious person enters the building; a student comes to school armed; a domestic dispute spills over into a school classroom. With the app, which costs about $3,100 per school that uses it, the adult who notices suspicious activity can press a button to alert teachers that it's time to lock down their classrooms. Teachers turn off the lights, lock the doors and get students out of sight.
Tresit Group is the Utah company that developed the application, which is now being used in school districts around Utah, Idaho and other states.
"The teacher's job is just to select their location, and [indicate] if they are safe or unsafe," says Tresit marketing director Preston Keller. "If they're safe the room goes green...and if they're unsafe the room goes red." (Teachers press a red or green button on their smartphone or computer to indicate whether or not the classroom is safe).
The alert also goes to local law enforcement. Some police departments around the state have started using DIR-S to better communicate with teachers during emergencies. An instant-messaging feature allows teachers to type messages to each other during an incident, indicating if anyone in their classroom is missing. Missing persons can also be reported on the application.
Canyons School District performs regular drills using DIR-S. It can also be used for fire and earthquake drills. Draper goes around the school and makes sure all classroom doors are locked. A dangerous job in an real-life event, but keeping children safe is paramount. "Seconds count," said Draper. "There's also the ability on the app for teachers to indicate whether they need medical help."
The Canyons School District Board made obtaining this app for local schools a priority project this year. It costs money, but as technology grows, so does the ability for those who would want to do harm to circumvent it. Draper said DIR-S helps schools stay ahead of the curve.
"Knowing that we have to do this to prepare our students, it's definitely a two-sided coin," Draper said. "You wish you didn't have to live in world where you have to prepare for this type of emergency, but...it's a top priority."
DIR-S can also be used on an individual level, but the company's current focus is on schools and corporate environments
Thank you to Channel 4 news for the great story! All credit and content are provided by Channel 4 News.