Raptor Technologies is the nation’s leading provider of integrated school safety software. Over 80% of Texas schools trust Raptor software.
This school year is unlike any other. Many students and staff are coping with the impacts of COVID-19, and experts continue to warn we will see increased school violence and mental health crises. To address these safety challenges, schools should consider the following best practices to build and maintain safe schools, day after day and year after year.
Plan for all incidents
Texas schools are required to have an emergency operations plan (EOP) — a “multi-hazard plan for all types of emergencies, including violence and shootings, but also incidents such as hurricanes and gas leaks,” former Santa Fe Texas ISD Superintendent, Dr. Leigh Wall, shared on the podcast, School Safety Today.
“One of the keys to [an EOP] is that it is dynamic,” Wall stated. “In addition to having a plan, you have to review and audit it.”
Auditing your EOP is critical to verify that you have policies to address the pandemic’s impacts. Additionally, on a recent Raptor webinar, Paul Timm, Vice President of Facility Engineering Associates, P.C., suggested schools do an assessment to confirm any pandemic-related policies are safe and necessary.
It’s not enough to simply create, assess, and revise your plan. “You can’t sit [your EOP] on the shelf and hope that, when things happen, people just know what to do with it. It has to be practiced,” Wall said.
Prepare and comply with drill mandates
The more schools conduct well-planned safety drills aligned with their EOP and in compliance with TEA mandates, the more intuitive the processes will become for participants and the more successful emergency responses will be.
Best practice is to involve all staff, according to Dr. Jaclyn Schildkraut, one of the nation’s leading mass and school shootings researchers. Student involvement should be based on age and developmental level.
Schools should also include first responders. “If the district is committed to safety and takes the time to interact with law enforcement, it will certainly benefit them long term,” Craig Miller, retired chief of the Dallas ISD Police Department, advised on an episode of School Safety Today.
After each drill, the safety team should immediately debrief, looking at drill performance data — ideally captured in a drill management solution — to analyze what went well and what needs improvement. The drill management software should also be used to show compliance with TEA drill requirements.
Equip staff to quickly ask for help
Mobile panic buttons allow users to alert others to emergencies from wherever they are on campus. The system should be customized to your EOP and should automatically share details with 9-1-1, such as the caller’s name, number and precise location on campus. “Response time is very important,” Wall said. “We also know that… schools need to be diligent to look at the resources and tools that connect [pieces of emergency response] together so that they don’t have a fragmented system.”
A comprehensive emergency management system expedites awareness, promotes collaboration with responders and incident commanders, helps account for everyone on campus and results in safe reunification. The best systems integrate with visitor and volunteer management software to give schools complete control.
Bay City ISD trusts an integrated suite, the Raptor School Safety Suite, for its safety programs. “We have a lot of contractors in and out of our campuses,” Lisa Moya, assistant superintendent of Bay City ISD, shared with Raptor. “Raptor Visitor Management is integral in keeping track of who is on each campus, and because it integrates with Raptor Emergency Management, we’re able to track and account for those contractors if we need to evacuate.”
Reunite students and guardians
When a staff member alerted district administrators of a sewage gas leak in their elementary school, Bruno Dias, former director of safety and security for Weatherford ISD, knew they needed to immediately evacuate. Weatherford Superintendent Jeffrey Hanks initiated a response in Raptor Emergency Management. Instantly, all teachers received an alert and immediately knew to evacuate and account for themselves and their students. They reunified half of their students within the first hour, with 99% of students reunified by lunch.
“Our parents were very impressed [with our reunification],” Mr. Dias shared about the incident. “They saw our team checking IDs and using their mobile phones to direct the reunification. They knew that no mistakes were being made. We’ve heard nothing but positive remarks.”
Fully protect your schools
Investing in the right tools and software — like the Raptor School Safety Suite — creates the ultimate benefit: safety and peace of mind for everyone in your community. Over 35,000 K-12 U.S. schools, including over 80% of Texas schools, trust Raptor to maintain school safety. Raptor solutions are allowable expenses under COVID-19 ESSER Funds and numerous school safety grants.
Founded in 2002, Raptor Technologies is driven by our mission to protect every child, every school, every day. To learn more, visit www.raptortech.com.