District leaders should count on having another challenging school year and prepare by teaching school safety on “day one.”
So says Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services. Security threats are already occurring just days into the new academic year: Two students were found with guns at Rome High School in Georgia in the first week of classes. Another student was taken into custody after a gun was discovered in their bookbag at Greenbrier High School, also located in Georgia.
While there are many important issues for leaders to juggle in the early stages of the school year, school safety must be at the top of the list.
“Schools should practice their first emergency preparedness drills soon after students return,” says Trump. “Real emergencies follow no schedule and will not wait until it is convenient for school officials.”
He also points to how the pandemic produced a buildup of aggression in students, which will likely spill over into this school year. “Last year we saw an unprecedented amount of aggression and violence that many attribute in part to students having been learning remotely for so long,” says Trump. “There is every indication that what we saw manifest last year will continue to exist and escalate in the upcoming school year.”
Weaknesses in the current state of safety protocol were exposed in the school shootings that occurred last year. If leaders focus on the basics and fundamentals and less on “hardening,” students and faculty will be better prepared.
“The Uvalde shooting and other cases of violence last year only reinforce the need to focus on training, communications, supervision and other human factors that make a difference in preventing and responding to a critical accident,” says Trump.
He adds that supporting students through using the “invisible things,” such as emotional security, relationship-building and creating a culture of school safety, is what makes a difference.