Communication and technology for school safety | #schoolsaftey

Key points:

With school-associated violence at a record high, there is an urgent responsibility for school leaders to protect the safety of students, teachers, and staff. As the 2023 – 2024 academic year concludes this spring, school leaders will have the opportunity to review safety protocols and adopt new tools to foster a safe and secure learning environment for years to come. By prioritizing critical components like best-of-breed communication technology, school leaders can ensure their integrated safety plan will help minimize emergencies and significantly contribute to the academic growth and wellbeing of students and staff.

Create an emergency communication plan for proactive safety 

Communication is one of the most important components of school safety. Having a fast and reliable way to disseminate information will lead to quicker response times for day-to-day operations and is vital for threat assessment, developing a plan of action, and responding to emergencies. While having a communication plan is crucial for every school, it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. School leaders must consider the unique features of the school, weighing factors like building and campus size, access to cellular service, needs of the student and staff populations, and even the established or unique chain of command.

Also, key to a solid communication plan is ensuring the active involvement and participation of teachers and staff. Because teachers are the authority figures closest to students, it’s important to keep their needs in mind when developing a safety strategy.  What do they need to feel prepared and equipped to respond? Addressing the unique needs of teachers will help ensure everyone is on the same page and ready to safeguard the school community.

Improve your safety plan with effective communication tools

Because effective communication is critical to for safety plans, leaders must adopt tools that enable teachers and staff to maintain constant and immediate contact. By prioritizing factors such as speed, reliability, and ease of use, schools can introduce tools that support safety while also fostering a strong and connected school community. 

Digital communication tools such as text message alerts are one of the most common modes of communication for schools, with 82 percent of K-12 schools using them for emergency notifications. While there is no doubt that texting is quick and user-friendly, vulnerability associated with cell service and Wi-Fi disruptions can lead to serious miscommunications, and even worse, delayed emergency response times.

More reliable communication tools like two-way radios offer the same speed and user-friendliness without the unpredictability of a cell connection or internet. Given that radio frequencies can penetrate walls and navigate complex buildings, school staff will benefit from constant contact, facilitating the smooth coordination of safety protocol and emergency response. Radios can also serve an important role in maintaining daily operations, such as school drop off and pick up. With this, teachers and bus drivers can easily communicate and ensure students enter and leave school grounds in the safest way possible.

Maintaining safety technology with routine testing and training

When strengthening the safety measures at your school, it is important to not only integrate effective communication tools, but to also evaluate your technological infrastructure regularly. Consistent testing, battery replacements, and software updates are fundamental to ensure that your systems remain effective over time. Introducing a routine maintenance schedule is one of the simplest ways to get this done.

Equally important is providing regular school safety technology training to teachers and staff. Doing so helps ensure a seamless response in the face of an emergency, while also reducing future safety risks. User-friendly technologies like two-way radios make it easy to train educators of all skill levels, enabling them to immediately contribute to the safety of your school. As school safety technology evolves, having a well-informed staff becomes critical for maintaining a secure learning environment.

Another simple way to elevate your school’s safety measures is by staying up to date with the latest safety tools and trends. This can be achieved through active participation at industry trade shows, seminars, and training sessions. By taking this proactive approach, school leaders can refine their protocols, learn from industry experts, share best practices with peers, and find new ways to strengthen their safety measures.

Safeguard the school community with weather alert technology

In addition to security and safety-related emergencies that make headlines, weather is another uncontrollable factor that demands attention from schools and their districts when it comes to proactive emergency management. To stay informed of weather conditions, school districts can always monitor local news and forecasts, but the most accurate source remains the National Weather Service. In those instances when districts cannot disseminate weather information to schools, weather radios are a near failproof solution for receiving severe weather alerts. Simply keeping a weather radio in the school’s main office can be enough to keep staff in the loop and prepared in the face of severe weather.

The power of preparedness

Above all measures a school can take, preparedness stands at the forefront of school safety. By investing in advanced communication tools and technology, schools can position themselves ahead of potential dangers and cultivate a positive academic environment. This commitment to preparedness not only ensures safety for the upcoming school year but sets the foundation for safety in the years to come.  

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