America’s Safe Schools Week was October 17-23. To honor America’s Safe Schools Week all month, Raptor Technologies® is sharing some of the best practices we have compiled from our 32,000 K-12 clients and nearly 20 years of experience as a school safety partner. This series of 4 articles highlights drills, emergency response, parent-student reunification, and more.
As the school climate continues to change and increasingly complex threats emerge, it’s critical that schools have a holistic, robust, and multilayered approach to safety and security. It may be virtually impossible to predict an emergency, like an active shooter, a bomb threat, or a gas leak, but there are many things your school can do to be prepared for any crisis.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve shared best practices for preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies. The key takeaways from this series are below. Additional resources, best practices, and insights from industry experts are linked at the end of this article.
Drills are an Integral Part of School Safety
Conducting drills helps your teachers, students, and staff be prepared so they can respond and keep everyone safe in an actual crisis. Consistently practicing your drills—and therefore testing your emergency operations plan (EOP)—builds confidence and muscle memory as well as enables you to improve your procedures. It’s also imperative for schools to stay in compliance with state requirements.
Duval County Public Schools ensures emergency preparedness and drill compliance by using a drill management solution that makes scheduling, conducting, and reporting on drills easier.
“After the [Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy], we had to manage fire drills, active shooter drills, and environmental safety reports for every school, every month,” says Duval County School Police Department Assistant Chief Wayne Clark. “In addition, we hold monthly behavior threat assessment team meetings at each school. We folded that process into the system as well, so that’s four mandated events per month per school managed through Raptor Drill Manager. That’s huge in helping us make sure we remain in compliance with state mandates.” Read their story here.
Responding to Emergencies Requires More than Alyssa’s Law Compliance
Schools must comply with Alyssa’s Law by having a panic alert system, but the safety of your schools goes beyond that requirement. Expediting awareness by alerting others that there is a crisis is only the first step in emergency response. Teachers and staff must be able to quickly summon help and send detailed alerts to a custom list of recipients, which can include administrators, staff members, and first responders. Further, they need to be able to quickly connect to 9-1-1, communicate through group messaging, share their locations and emergency documents—including EOPs and school maps—and account for everyone on campus during an emergency.
When a staff member alerted district administrators of a sewage gas leak in their elementary school, Bruno Dias, Weatherford ISD’s Director of Safety and Security, knew they needed to immediately evacuate. Weatherford’s Superintendent, Jeffrey Hanks, initiated an emergency using a mobile emergency management solution. Instantly, all teachers received an alert and immediately knew to evacuate and account for themselves and their students. Weatherford evacuated nearly 370 students using an integrated solution that gave leaders and emergency personnel full visibility into the real-time status of every single student and staff member. Read their story here.
Technology Helps Streamline Parent-Student Reunification
Successful, efficient parent-student reunification requires everyone involved to know each student’s status, including their location and if they are missing or injured, as they are updated in real time. The reunification team also needs a method to quickly confirm each guardian’s ID, check for sex offender status and custodial restrictions, and capture their signature at reunification. Technology eliminates inaccuracy, reduces liability, and ensures students are only reunified with approved guardians.
Seminole County—recognized as a model Florida district—leverages technology to streamline reunification. The district ran a full-scale reunification exercise in the spring of 2019 after implementing the system. “We were really pleased with how well everything worked and how quickly and efficiently the Raptor [system] kept everyone on top of the accountability and reunification processes, even with the obstacles we included, such as ‘media infiltration’ and role-players posing as emotional parents,” School Safety Lieutenant Kelly Martin says. “Communication through the app is immediate, and the Sheriff’s Office and other first responders appreciate how well it works.” Read their story here.
Additional Guidance, Best Practices, & Insights from Industry Experts
Click the links below to continue learning about the latest guidance, best practices, and industry trends:
- Alyssa’s Law in Florida: What Schools Need to Expedite Emergency Response and Comply with the Law
- Partners in Safety: Building Relationships Between Schools and Law Enforcement Panel Discussion
- Key Lessons Learned from Stopping a School Shooter Webinar
- Back-to-School in the Age of COVID-19 eBook
- Top 5 Considerations for Florida Schools and Alyssa’s Law
Raptor was founded in 2002 with the mission to protect every child, every school, every day. Completely built in-house, Raptor integrated safety solutions protect over 32,000 K-12 schools, empowering them to stay focused on their highest calling: cultivating educated, civic-minded students. To learn more about Raptor, contact us today to set up a personalized demo.