How to Make Schools Safer with the Four Pillars of Physical Safety | #schoolsaftey


Burke’s and Delgadillo’s districts are both considering BluePoint Alert Solutions for their school buildings. This technology, which looks like a blue fire alarm, alerts the police when activated.

“It gives an audible alert and flashing blue lights in your hallways and in your parking lot. There’s an audible message that circulates on all your systems and your TVs indicating there’s been an incident,” Burke explains. “It gives very specific locations from where it was pulled that activates the cameras for law enforcement and first responders. They can pull up, on their phones, the cameras in the location where the event is taking place to see live footage.”

“Communication is key when it comes to these situations,” Delgadillo says. “We upgraded to Motorola radios, and we added repeaters to both campuses so we can have cross-traffic.”

Steven’s district also wanted to upgrade its radios but found that many of the products were backordered and delayed due to the pandemic. To bridge the gap caused by supply chain issues, the district found new ways to use the devices it already had.

“We looked at the radios we had throughout the entire building. We assessed the time of day that the staff needed the radios,” she says. “We found that the base radios for the secretary staff at the main office could be used, so we deployed their radios in the classroom during the day.”

How Do Mental Well-Being and School Culture Contribute to Safety?

Mental well-being and positive school culture ensure that the school is a place students and staff feel safe. While there are technologies that support this pillar of physical safety, a lot of it also comes down to training and carefully balancing security and learning technologies.

For McHenry Community High School, striking that balance is possible with the help of software like GoGuardian. “We monitor the kids and what they’re looking for on the internet,” Delgadillo says. “We can pick up some of those things and hopefully prevent something bad from happening.”

DISCOVER: Technology tools support schools’ mental health efforts.

Burke, meanwhile, praises his district’s threat assessment team, which consists of a teacher/counselor from the grade school, the district’s head of special education curriculum, the school psychologist, a social worker and Burke himself.

“We have a very good threat assessment team that does deep dives when they have suspicions or when something is going on with a student,” he says. “They can get into the background and even bring in the psychologist or the social worker to figure out what’s going on with the student. Your threat assessment team is really step one of your school security.”

This helps his district maintain the balance between a welcoming learning environment and a safe one, Burke says.

“School safety is unique because you’re trying to merge two things that really are opposites. You want to create a healthy school environment — a warm, inviting environment for the kids to learn in — but now you’re incorporating safety, which can be rigid and more structured and maybe not so warm and fuzzy,” Burke says. “I’ll be honest, it’s not a nice topic to talk about, but in the world we live in today, we kind of have to adjust to these things, so you’re merging two cultures.”

Stevens also is working toward merging new safety measures with the traditional school environment. “The goal is for it to be a warm environment where everyone can learn and grow,” she says. “When we look at our school emergency and response plans, we want staff and students to feel empowered to respond to any crisis. That’s why having a plan is so important.”

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