Here’s what just replaced COVID as K-12 leaders’ top school safety concern
Even as cases plunge, the pandemic is still keeping K-12 leaders up at night. But as of last month, it is no longer what they are worried about most.
Just over half of administrators polled in February said blocking transmission of the virus and precautions such as PPE and social distancing remained a high priority, according to RAVE Mobile Safety’s “2022 Crisis Communication and Safety in Education Survey.” In fact, COVID ranked second on the list of administrators’ leading challenges.
“Though COVID-19 safety is still a top priority, it’s clear that the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on students, parents, faculty and staff alike,” the survey says. “After two hard years, people are exhausted, and campus leaders are concerned about how that will present itself going forward if the right resources and safety measures aren’t in place.”
Administrators’ No. 1 safety concern is now student mental health. The emotional well-being of staff landed in third place. More than 60% of respondents listed student mental health as their most pressing issue while just over half listed staff wellness. In fact, nearly 70% of the respondents said they were more concerned about student mental health than they were a year ago, citing continued periods of stress and isolation brought about by the pandemic and other events.
While about half of the leaders surveyed said their school had the resources to provide adequate mental health care, many also said they would invest more in counseling and related services. Compared to last year, however, the number of administrators who said they would conduct daily health and COVID symptom checks dropped by about half.
Here’s how education leaders ranked their remaining top concerns:
- Maintaining adequate staff: 51%
- Bullying/cyberbullying: 41%
- Student and staff physical health: 31%
- Active assailant: 26%
- Crime: 23%
- Severe weather: 21%
Many of the issues above also represent growing concerns for school leaders. For instance, concerns about cyberbullying rose by 12% and active assailants by 14% compared to 2021. And only about a third of the respondents felt their school had the funding to put adequate safety measures in place for the 2022-23 school year.
“Social media is also complicating matters, as many respondents are following how recent waves of threats on TikTok and similar platforms are affecting schools,” the survey said. “Nearly 80% of respondents acknowledged that these occurrences have contributed to their concern for campus safety.”
Communication with staff, students and parents during emergencies is one area where administrators say there is room for improvement. Email and text messages remained by far the most popular methods of crisis communications with less than a quarter using desktop alerts and mobile apps, the survey found.