The School Safety and Student Well-Being Advisory Committee of the Office of the Superintendent https://legiscan.com/WA/text/HB1216/2019 met on December 5th. This committee is primarily the working body of House Bill 1216 on School Safety. The committee is to advise public and private schools on all matters related to comprehensive school safety and student wellbeing.
At this meeting, the Youth Voice Focus Group which is a group of appointed high school students made a presentation on how students can be better prepared in the event of an emergency or threat. The group identified that 65% of students felt they were not prepared, didn’t have direction and felt high anxiety. Personal testaments by students outlined the lack of information, confusion on procedures and the anxiety students felt regarding these particular drills. Quote, “Student imagination is worse than reality. Strategies to remove these obstacles would include giving students advanced information regarding drills, announce the drill in clear and concise language, and more drills done outside the classroom i.e., hallways, cafeterias, playgrounds, etc. and provide comprehensive training for staff.
In addition, HB 1216 calls for “School-based threat assessment” which means a formal process established of evaluating the threatening, or potentially threatening, behavior of a student, and the circumstances surrounding the threat, to uncover any facts or evidence that the threat is likely to be carried out. “School-based threat management” means the development and implementation of a plan to manage or reduce the threatening, or potentially threatening, behavior of a student in a way that increases the physical and psychological safety of students, staff, and visitors, while providing for the education of all students. The threat assessments are expected to be posted on the website of the regional school safety centers as of January 1, 2020.
The regional school safety centers (all nine of the ESD sites are regional safety centers) form a statewide network for school safety. The purpose of this statewide network is to provide coordination of school safety efforts throughout the state and to provide school safety resources to the schools. The OCS has posted core School Safety resources, including contact info for the 5 ESD sites in western Washington at https://mycatholicschool.org/school-safety-program/
Also to assist schools in the development of school safety plans the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has provided a wealth of resources https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/health-safety/school-safety-center/safety-planning-toolkit to assist schools in the development of building safety plans. One such resource is the Guide for Developing High Quality School Emergency Operations Plans at https://rems.ed.gov/docs/REMS_K-12_Guide_508.pdf.
Take the time to review your building plans with staff. It makes a difference when the crisis occurs.