Kids spend a lot of time in school. As a prepared parent, you should take time to make sure that your child is safe and prepared at school like you have prepared at home. Sometimes this isn’t always easy to do because you are dealing with others who might not have the same ideas that you have about preparedness. So, as school gears up all across the nation, preparedness minded parents should have some questions for their school administrators. But just beware! Not all schools and administrators are the same. You might not like the answers you hear!
Parent: What does the school do to help maintain a healthy environment free of germs that can sicken my child?
Of course, germs are everywhere. In a place where you are going to have a bunch of students, who have different ideas of cleanliness, spreading germs can be an issue. Students should always be encouraged to wash their hands every chance they get. We also encourage teachers and students to keep a bottle of germicide close by. One of the things that is also helpful is if students don’t share pencils, crayons and other supplies with their peers. Yes, I know students are taught to share, but if a parent requests that their student doesn’t share for this specific reason, it should be understood. I also advocate for having extra supplies in a student’s EDC.
I know the nurse at my campus does an excellent job of monitoring and checking students. If students have had lice, they go to her for a head check before being allowed back into the classroom. If a student was running fever, they are not allowed to come back for 24 hours and then get checked before they go back to the classroom. This isn’t foolproof though, some kids sneak through. It is amazing how many parents give their child medicine and send them to school because they don’t want to take off work or find someone to watch their child while they are sick at home.
Parent: Does the school have a plan for an active shooter incident?
Yes! Many things have changed over the years. Past procedures would call for a “lock-down” where the teacher would lock the door, turn off the lights, gather the students in a corner or get under desks.” In many districts and schools, this is not the current procedure. In fact, on my campus, teachers have been given the freedom to do what they feel is best to keep their students safe.
If an incident occurs, teachers are told to RUN-HIDE-FIGHT. For instance, if a teacher hears shots fired in another part of the school, they have the freedom to choose to “RUN,” to get their students out of the building and to a safe place in the neighborhood or down the street.
If RUN is not an option, for instance, the shooter is right down the hall, HIDE in a room with a locked door would be the next best option. There are also ways to help secure a door that doesn’t lock, click here and here.
If RUN and HIDE are not the best option, then FIGHT is the procedure that MUST be followed to save lives! By FIGHT, I mean by any means necessary, pick up some teacher scissors, throw a chair, throw anything! In Sandy Hook, the students that survived the one classroom where all the students were murdered, were the students that ran passed the shooter and to safety. A moving target is a lot harder to hit!
Unfortunately, we have a long way to go to have totally secure campuses. The balance is to have a campus that is inviting for students, but at the same time doesn’t look like a prison. Other things that school districts and campuses can do are:
- Provide administrators with radios that have a direct channel to reach district police or security. This will save precious time as administrators wouldn’t have to get to a phone to call for help.
- Allow a few people on campus to carry concealed. I don’t know why most districts are opposed to this. But having three to four people on campus, maybe all the administrators, trained to carry would be a help to maybe neutralize or at least distract the threat for police to get to the campus.
- Drill. I don’t advocate for doing drills with live blanks and pretend bad guys. But taking time to get teachers and students to think about why they are drilling and how to react will help the mind overcome the anxiety of an actual event.
Parent: In the case of a serious incident, can I come and pick up my child? Who is going to stop me????
I have read articles, posts on Facebook and listened to podcasts where people have said that if there was an incident at their child’s campus, that nothing would stop them from getting to their child. I totally understand that! Really!!! However, you might be causing more harm than good if you try to force your way into a school. Let me explain.
A situation has occurred at your child’s school. Somehow you have heard about it and you rush up to the school to make sure your child is safe. You pull into the parking lot, run to the front door and try to go in. The doors are locked so you start pounding on the doors and demanding to be let in. You are scared, angry and maybe yelling.
The police arrive on the scene and see you at the door yelling, screaming and angry. If they have been told that there is an active shooter “in the building,” they might ask you to stand down and move away. If you don’t, they would probably arrest you for interfering. If they haven’t been told what the emergency is, they might think that you are the issue. And you know that they will shoot first and ask questions later.
If I was in that situation and I saw the police rolling up to the school, knowing what I know, I would stay back in the parking lot or even on the street. If students were coming out of the school somewhere, I would try and help teachers get students away and safe. The last thing you want is to become a problem and possibly be separated from your child “permanently.” But, we live in a free country and you can do whatever you want. This is my opinion knowing how the police will respond to a campus situation.
In closing, one of the best things you can do as a parent is to get involved at your child’s school. You might not be able to volunteer during the day, but you can try to be up there for every function and event as possible. The more time you spend on campus, the more you will see the quality of the education, safety precautions and the ability and caring of the staff.
Some of the stuff above might scare the HELL out of you! I know it always causes me concern when I start thinking this way. Some of you might think that the start of the school year is not the best time to bring this up, as you are buying new school supplies and clothes for your child. But you need to be aware and ask the difficult questions. Some of you might want to home school or you home school now as a result of these issues. I totally understand that and although I am a public school administrator, I am also an advocate for home school. However, if you choose to home school, please take the education of your child seriously. Get involved with a home school co-op and do your research. I have worked with many parents who pulled their child out of public school to home school for various reasons. Their education consisted of an online computer program. I believe online computer programs are a great resource and help, but it should not be the ONLY source of homeschooling. There is so much great information out there on home school that providing an effective, personalized program is very doable.
Lastly, please remember that every district and campus is totally different. Many provide a better education than others. Many are more responsible than others. Many plan out emergency situations more than others. And, there are many that are more rational than others.
What other concerns do you have in regards to public school? What do you think would help turn the current overall “image” of public school around? I would love to know your thoughts.
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