For too long, school safety was defined by creating secure school campuses. Things like protecting windows and doors, as well as practicing drills for a variety of emergency situations.
Of course, these are still important aspects to improving school safety. They just aren’t the only necessary measures.
California districts are increasingly focusing not only on physical safety but also on the emotional and mental safety that make healthy communities. Recently, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) started its five-year, multi-million dollar study examining school safety in California schools.
Patricia Campies, the lead researcher for the study, said, “We still have a misunderstanding of school safety, which most think of as the physical safety of students, but the more important and more difficult thing is understanding the social and emotional safety of children.”
Here, we’ll discuss how California districts are focusing on other initiatives to see how the definition of “school safety” could be changing in California and around the country.
Campus Safety Initiatives in California Districts
Practicing More Active Shooter Drills
A new Assembly Bill passed recently requires schools to write comprehensive “school safety plans to include procedures for active shooter situations.” Further, schools must perform active shooter drills once a year.
This means that if schools don’t already have plans in place for dealing with this situation, they need to update these procedures. Further, they need to regularly schedule drills that deal specifically with active shooter situations.
Requiring Modernization Projects
In connection with preparing for dangerous situations, schools must update their campuses to make them safer and more secure. Processes for improving physical campus safety include retrofitting windows with bulletproof glass, fencing the campus, and installing locks that can be closed from the inside.
Doors can be made safer with ScholarChip’s Secure Door Access. Only faculty, staff, and students with certain permissions can access doors at certain times of day. In turn, unauthorized personnel can never access the campus. Further, doors with these locks can be secured with only the click of a button, eliminating safety issues involved with manually locking each door.
Creating More Positive School Climates
Creating Support Systems Involving Many Different People and Groups
Students need to feel comfortable at school, no matter what they’re going through. If they need support and help, they should know that there is an individual or group on campus that they can turn to for help. So, developing resources for students on campus is imperative for promoting a healthy school climate.
At the same time, too, only students who feel supported by faculty and staff will often feel comfortable sharing safety issues they’ve noticed on campus. As school safety expert Ron Avi Astor notes, “Students know about this stuff earlier and experience it on school grounds on a regular basis. Unless you have a positive, caring setting that’s supportive, they won’t come forth and you won’t know about it.”
On January 1, 2019, AB 2291, a new anti-bullying bill went into effect. If students are bullied, they feel unsafe in school, which, in turn, makes them feel less-than-welcome. A school rife with bullying has anything but a positive climate.
So, the bill requires faculty and staff to have the tools necessary to prevent bullying. Each school in a district now must include policies and procedures to address bullying.
Using Restorative Justice Instead of Traditional Discipline
Students who are struggling with their behavior don’t always respond positively to traditional means of discipline. A school suspension, for example, might be exactly what they don’t need to get their behavior on track.
Instead, school districts are turning more often to restorative justice, a behavior alteration method focusing on mediating conflict and creating positive habits, rather than on traditional punishment.
ScholarChip’s Alternative Behavior Educator (ABE)
ABE helps schools keep track of students who have behavioral issues that have led or could lead to bullying. Not only does the tool help districts keep track of student behavior as they move on to new teachers, but also provides customized plans and activities that help these students make better choices. These techniques – which focus on changing behavior, not punishment – can be integrated into a district’s plan for restorative justice.
Using ScholarChip to Promote Student Accountability
Students need to know that someone is looking out for their whereabouts; this accountability makes them more likely to attend school. But no matter how robust the support systems you have in place, it can be difficult for faculty and staff to keep track of students with electronic help.
That’s where the One Card comes into play. Students use this digital ID to check in wherever they’re supposed to be throughout the day. If they’re not where they’re supposed to be, the card simplifies the check-in process for support systems to check in on truant students.
School Safety Is a Multifaceted Issue
It is certainly important to create a physically-secure campus. However, with studies like AIR and others, it’s equally clear that school safety requires more than a protected campus. Students need to feel welcomed and cared for when they come to school. Real school safety is complex and needs to be dealt with in a multifaceted way.
ScholarChip offers a solution called Alternative Behavior Educator (ABE). This innovative program enables school leaders to identify, monitor, and improve student behavior throughout a student’s career, while giving administrators and teachers powerful data-driven reports that quickly flag at-risk students, help monitor and chronicle progress, and support decision-making tasks. The ScholarChip system incorporates the complete spectrum of behavior and integrates student rewards, interventions, and tracking with PowerSchool®, Infinite Campus, and other popular SIS platforms.
To learn how ScholarChip can help keep your schools safer and more secure learn more about the many solutions ScholarChip provides or to get free recommendations, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!