School Safety Glossary

School safety is complex. Not only must you stay updated on the latest trends and challenges, but you also need to know the terms and phrases that are common within the school safety space. To help you, we put together this glossary of school safety definitions.

School Safety Glossary

A-C   |   D-F   |   G-I   |   K-L   |   M-O   |   P-R   |   S-T   |   U-Z

A

504 Plan: This plan ensures that any student with a disability receives accommodations that will ensure their access to the learning environment and help them achieve academic success.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA): Applied Behavioral Analysis is a type of therapy where a child works one-on-one with a practitioner that focuses on improving social skills, reading, academics, and learning skills, such as hygiene, grooming, and punctuality.
Active Shooter: Someone who is actively attempting to hurt and/or kill people by using guns.

ALICE: Stands for: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. It’s a training method for active shooter response for schools and other organizations.

Alyssa’s Law: “Alyssa’s Law”—named after Alyssa Alhadeff, a victim of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy—requires public schools, including charter schools, to have silent panic alert systems linked directly to first responders and law enforcement agencies.

American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act: American Rescue Plan Act, which is one of three COVID-19 relief acts, alongside CARES and CRRSA. All three include ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds for K-12 schools.

American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund: The ARP ESSER fund has set aside $122 billion in available funds to help schools safely reopen. The funding allows for expenses that reduce the pandemic’s impacts on students through the purchase of health screening tools, funds for learning loss, and additional resources to address the mental well-being of students impacted by the isolation of the lockdown.

The Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP): The Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP) was founded in 1992 as a non-profit organization comprised of law enforcement, prosecutors, mental health professionals, corporate security experts, probation and parole personnel and others involved in the area of threat and violence risk assessment.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Autism is a developmental disability that can impact how individuals communicate with and respond to the world around them. Students, staff, and visitors with ASD may need a different approach to school safety planning and training than their peers.

B

Blended Learning: A combination of instructor-led learning (synchronous) which can be in-person or virtual and student-led learning (asynchronous) which is typically conducted online.

Behavioral Threat Assessment (BTA): Behavioral Threat Assessment (BTA) is an evidence-based approach that helps schools identify students and/or other individuals who may pose a threat. The goal is to intervene with the appropriate resources and prevent school emergencies and incidents. This improves school safety for everyone.
Bullying: Bullying is aggressive, unwanted behavior among K-12 students that is intended to cause emotional and/or physical harm. It is considered a prevalent form of youth violence.

C

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act: In March 2020, the U.S. Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in response to the pandemic. This is one of three COVID-19 relief acts, alongside ARP and CRRSA. All three include ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds for K-12 schools.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the nation’s health protection agency that provides updated information and best practices for health, safety, and other threats.

Charter Schools: Charter schools are independent public schools that are open to all students. These schools enable students to attend a different school than their zoned public school and are free to attend.

Columbine High School Shooting: This tragic school shooting and attempted bombing occurred April 20, 1999, in Littleton, Colorado. The perpetrators, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, killed 12 students and one teacher.

Competitive Grant: These are school competitive funding opportunities with limited awards available. The grant process requires schools to submit strong applications that align with the grant program’s goals.

Contagion: Research suggests that violent incidents tend to lead to more violent incidents within a short period of time.

Copycat Effect: Copycats are individuals who attempt to copy previous violent acts, such as school shootings. There is typically an increase in copycat threats and actions immediately following the violent incident. These copycats typically make threats for attention and do not understand the severe consequences of their actions.

COVID Screening for Schools: This screening involves testing students, staff, and other community members as appropriate for COVID-19 symptoms and/or active infections.

CPOMS: Child Protection Online Monitoring and Safeguarding (CPOMS) is the market-leading software solution for monitoring Safeguarding, wellbeing, and all pastoral issues. CPOMS is a Raptor Technologies company.

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act: The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, signed into law in December 2020, provides an additional $54.3 billion in an ESSER II Fund. This is one of three COVID-19 relief acts, alongside CARES and ARP. All three include ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds for K-12 schools.

D

Department of Education: The U.S. Department of Education is the agency of the federal government. It develops policy for, administers, and coordinates most federal assistance to education.

District: A school district is a special-purpose district that operates the local public primary and secondary schools. The majority of U.S. K–12 public schools are units of local school districts. The largest districts in our nation operate hundreds of schools.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS): Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for securing the United States from threats that range from aviation and border security, to cybersecurity, to emergency response.

Drills (School Safety Drills): Every state requires schools to conduct drills. These drills prepare schools for any emergency by practicing and instilling confidence in the community.

Drill Management Software: A school drill management system automates scheduling, conducting, and reporting on drills.

E

Emergency Management for Schools: Emergency management encompasses many elements of school safety, including how the school will prevent, respond to, and recover from both large-scale and localized incidents. These incidents can be things from active shooters to a busted pipe to a tornado to a chemical spill in the lab.

Emergency Management Systems for Schools: School emergency management software can help schools prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies.

ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) Funding: ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) is included in the CARES, CRRSA, and ARP acts. It’s part of the COVID-19 relief funds for k-12 schools to address the pandemic.

Emergency Operations Plan (EOP): A comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) that outlines how your school will prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies is critical for school safety.

Evacuate: The school emergency response protocol used to move people from one location to a different location within or outside of the school campus.

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI): Based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), this therapy promotes skill development and behavior change. The therapy breaks larger tasks into smaller actions to make it easier to learn. This therapy approach is used with children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

F

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. It applies to every school that receives funds under the U.S. Department of Education. (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supports citizens and emergency personnel to develop improve the nation’s capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Formula Grant: These are funds that are allocated based on a set—or pre-determined—amount. Title I is an example of a well-known formula grant.

Full-Scale (Advanced) Simulation Exercises and School Safety Drills: These exercises require schools to collaborate with emergency response teams to run through multiple different types of emergency scenarios. They are complex, require a lot of time and resources, and participants must undergo mental health screening to ensure they are prepared to participate in them.

G

Greeters (Reunification Role): As part of the reunification team, Greeters are responsible for guardian check-in and verifying the guardian’s identity.

Greeter Zone (Reunification Site Area): Where guardians enter the reunification site. A basic setup will include an entryway for arriving guardians, a check-in station, and a path for the guardians to navigate to the Guardian Holding Area.

Guardian Holding Area (Reunification Site Area): Where guardians are grouped and wait to be reunified with their child(ren) during a school reunification. A basic setup will include an area where guardians can be grouped (and ideally organized by student last name), and a path for them to exit the area with their Guardian Runner escort as they are taken to the reunification area.

Grants: Many districts and schools rely on funding and grants to implement projects and extend their budget. There are many different types of funding.

H

Hybrid learning: A combination of instructor-led learning that is both virtual and in-person.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA): The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that safeguards sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge. Schools had to ensure compliance with HIPPA as they screened for COVID-19.

H.E.R.O. Program: From Safe Kids Inc, the HERO Program stands for Hide. Escape. Run. Overcome. Vetted by parents, teachers, and psychologists, the program is age and developmentally appropriate and includes a student accessibility guide for students with special needs. Raptor customers get a one-school-year free subscription.

I

The “I Love U Guys” Foundation (ILUG): The “I Love U Guys” Foundation has programs for crisis response and post-crisis reunification. The programs, like the Standard Reunification Method and the Standard Response Protocol, are used in more than 30,000 schools, districts and departments nationwide. Raptor is a proud partner of the Foundation.

Independent School District (ISD): An independent school district (ISD) is a type of school district in some US states. They serve primary and secondary education.

Inclusive School Safety Planning: Inclusive school safety considers everyone, including students, staff, visitors, volunteers, and contractors.

Individualized Education Plans (IEP): School districts must provide an IEP for all students receiving special education services.

Individual Safety Plan (ISP): An individual safety plan addresses specific behavior that is short-term but dangerous to the student and/or others.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures children with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education. This education must meet their needs and prepare them for further education, as well as future employment and independent living.

Incident Commander: The Incident Commander is in a central location and oversees, stages, and delivers instruction to the team during a school emergency.

Introductions School Safety Drill: An Introduction is a type of school safety drill that provides students and staff with a brief review of their school’s processes for managing crises.

K

K-12 COVID 19 Stimulus: Several COVID relief acts have provided much-needed funds to the education sector. In March 2020, the U.S. Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, signed into law in December 2020. In March 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act into law.

L

Learning Loss: Remote learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unfinished learning and/or learning loss for countless students. Research shows that the typical student in grades 3 to 8 returned to school this year 9 to 11 percentile points behind in math and 3 to 7 percentile points behind in reading. It could take up to 14 weeks of additional instruction for these students to return to grade level.

Lockdown: The school emergency response protocol that is used to secure individual rooms and keep people within those rooms quiet and in place.

M

Mobile Panic Alert for Schools: A mobile panic alert and button for schools allow users to activate an emergency response. Some schools are required to have these alarms to comply with Alyssa’s Law.

Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a universal framework that helps schools identify struggling students and intervene early. MTSS is focused on the whole child and aligns behavioral, social, emotional, and academic support.

N

National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC): The National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) is part of the U.S. Secret Service. The NTACT provides research and best practices for preventing targeted acts of violence.

National School Counseling Week (NSCW): National School Counseling Week, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), highlights the significant impact school counselors have on student success, both inside and outside of the classroom.

National Association of School and Campus Police Chiefs (NASCP): The National Association of School and Campus Police Chiefs is dedicated to being a powerful ally for executives who are responsible for keeping our schools and campuses safe.

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP): The National Association of School Psychologists is a national professional organization for school psychologists.

Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA): Document that provides details about the grant and what schools need to submit with their applications. Can also be referred to as a Request for Proposal (RFP) or the Program Guidance.

National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO): The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) provides training to school-based law enforcement officers.

O

Oxford High School Shooting: The Oxford High School shooting was the deadliest shooting on school property in 2021.

Orientations (School Safety Drill): Orientations are a type of school safety drill that allow students, staff, and first responders the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the layout of the campus.

P

Plotter: A plotter is someone who is considering and/or planning how to implement targeted acts of violence.

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA): A parent–teacher association/organization is a group of parents, teachers, and school staff that work together to facilitate parental participation in a school.

Parent Runner (Reunification Role): As part of the reunification team, the Parent Runner locates parents at the reunification site and bring them to reunification zone to be reunited with their child(ren).

Parent Monitor (Reunification Role): As part of the reunification team, the Parent Monitor manages the parents after they are checked into the reunification site and are waiting to be reunified with their student(s).

Preannounced Drills (School Safety Drill): Pre-announced drills involve notifying participants of a drill before it occurs, so that they understand that there is no real emergency.

Program Guidance for Grants: Document that provides details about the grant and what schools need to submit with their applications. Can also be referred to as a Request for Proposal (RFP) or the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS): Positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) promotes good behavior and school safety. Evidence-based, it has a layered framework that improves outcomes for all students.

R

Reunification Exercise: A school reunification exercise brings the district, its schools, and community together to be trained on parent-student reunification.

Reunification for Schools: Eliminates chaotic paper-and pencil-based methods and lets the reunification team quickly confirm the status of each student and staff member.

Remote learning: Remote learning is virtual learning, where students and teachers are connecting over technology instead of face-to-face. Remote/virtual learning became popular during the COVID-19 pandemic as schools were forced to shut their doors.
Readiness & Emergency Management for Schools (REMS): The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance Center supports U.S. schools with developing, implementing, and maintaining emergency operations plans (EOPs).

Risk Assessment: Districts and schools should conduct school safety risk assessments to evaluate potential vulnerabilities and risks in their schools.

Reunification Site: This is typically an off-site location where schools evacuate. Examples include churches, recreation centers, athletic facilities, meeting halls, movie theaters.

Reunification Area (Reunification Site Area): The Reunification Area is the designated zone where the reunification process is completed.

Reunification Team: Responsible for developing, implementing, and conducting school reunifications.

Request for Proposal (RFP): Document that provides details about the grant and what schools need to submit with their applications. Can also be referred to as a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) or the Program Guidance.

S

Safeguarding: Safeguarding promotes the welfare of all children and focuses on preventing harm, including from abuse and maltreatment. The whole-child approach ensures children have safe and effective care needed for bright lives and futures.

Standard Response Protocol (SRP): The Standard Response Protocol is from The “I Love U Guys” Foundation. The protocol describes emergency response actions for various school-related emergencies, from severe weather, bomb threats, to an active shooter.

Standard Reunification Method (SRM): From The “I Love U Guys” Foundation, this school emergency protocol provides proven methods for K-12 schools to plan, practice, and complete parent-student reunification.

Secure: The school emergency response protocol used to safeguard (secure) individuals in the school building when there is an active school emergency or incident.

School Safety Drills: School safety drills play an essential role in developing the skills that students and staff need to protect themselves during an emergency

School Resource Officer (SRO): The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) defines an SRO as “a carefully selected, specifically trained, and properly equipped full-time law enforcement officer with sworn law enforcement authority.” They are trained in school-based law enforcement and emergency response and are typically armed, unless prohibited by law.

School Climate: The school climate is based on the learning environment and relationships between staff, teachers, counselors, students, and other community members.

School Safety Solution: School safety solutions include software, technology, and other components that help promote safe learning environments.

School Safety Ecosystem: A toolbox of various components that can help schools quickly and efficiently respond to incidents.

Shelter: The school emergency response protocol used when everyone in the school needs to shelter in place during a school emergency.

Superintendent: The superintendent is similar to the CEO of a company. They are responsible for implementing the school board’s vision and leading the district.

Student Information System (SIS): A student information system (SIS) collects and stores school-wide data, including staff, guardian, and student data, and makes it accessible to the appropriate school and district staff. SIS data includes information like names, birthdates, addresses, class rosters, etc.

Student Runner (Reunification Role): As part of the reunification team, Student Runners locate students at the reunification site and bring them to the reunification zone to reunify them with their guardian.

Student Holding Area (Reunification Site Area): Where evacuated students wait to be reunified. A basic setup will include an area where the students can be seated (and ideally organized by student last name), and a path for them to exit the area with their Student Runner escort.

Simulation drills (School Safety Drill): Simulation drills involve modifying the environment to resemble different emergency scenarios. Due to the graphic nature of the scenarios presented, these drills should be conducted professionally to avoid causing harm to participants.

Seminars/Workshops (School Safety Drill): Seminars/workshops utilize instructional media such as, videos, books, and songs to teach students and staff how to effectively respond to emergencies.

T

Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC): The Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) is an official university-level research center at Texas State University. The TxSSC serves as a clearinghouse for safety and security information and is a leader in key school safety initiatives and mandates.

Threat Assessment: This process involves assessing risk from a specific threat.

Targeted Violence: This is premeditated violence that is directed towards a specific target.

Threat Assessment Team: An internal, multidisciplinary team who evaluates, investigates, and analyzes potential threats to school safety.

Tabletops (School Safety Drill): Tabletops are small group exercises where each member is assigned a distinct role in a safety scenario. Groups then communicate their ideas with one another and develop solutions which can later be shared with a larger group.

U

Unannounced drills (School Safety Drill): Unlike preannounced drills, unannounced drills are not discussed with all participants beforehand. Instead, participants are notified once the drill has begun that there is no real emergency.

V

Visitor Management for Schools: School visitor management systems help increase school safety by making sure all school entrants, visitors, contractors, etc. are screened against sex offender registries and custom databases (custodial restrictions, banned visitors, etc.). The most powerful systems alert school staff and security when a visitor is identified as a risk. The system should sync with Student Information Systems (SIS) to help ensure students are only released to appropriate guardians.

Volunteer Management for Schools: School volunteer management systems can simplify the volunteer process with an online application, time tracking, event management, and robust reporting.

W

Werther Effect: The werther effect is copycat suicides that take place after a highly publicized suicide.

Walk-through drills (School Safety Drill): Walk-through drills are slowed down drills that allow students to practice how they would respond to emergency. These drills provide students with a great opportunity to ask questions and develop a better understanding of other teams’ roles.