It’s time for parents to start preparing for another school year.
Along with a hectic schedule of back to school shopping, practices, and meetings, and the exciting prospects of another school year, parents (and kids) also find themselves facing the return to school with unsettling fears and anxieties about school safety.
Director of Vision Tactical Yaseen Theba says that school safety is about more than just school violence, and that making sure your child is safe at school is not just the job of educators.
“As a parent, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best is not good enough. It takes collaboration between all school stakeholders – educators, parents, students, and emergency responders – to make our schools safer.”
Theba outlined a few tips you can follow to keep your child safe returning to school.
See Something, Say Something Is Not Just For Adults.
Kids are often told not to tattle on each other. But disclosing information related to safety is critically important – and kids need to know that. Talk with your child about what to do when they see or hear concerning statements or social media posts, or witness behaviours that are odd or unsettling. Emphasize to your child that they are not being asked to make a judgement or decision about whether something is dangerous or threatening, rather they are being asked to disclose incidents, actions, and statements that are suspicious, disturbing, or just “off” in some way. Discuss ways to report threats or incidents to adults – not just sharing concerns via social media or talking with other students. If your child reports information to you, make sure to share it quickly, accurately, and confidentially, not with other parents in the stands at a game or on social media, but directly with school or law enforcement officials.
Be Active, Not Passive.
No matter what their age, your child needs to be an active participant in keeping themselves safe, not simply a passive bystander or someone waiting for help. Make sure your child understands and can apply basic safety procedures. Things like “stop, drop, and roll,” public transport safety, or “stranger danger” might be taught in school, but should also be reviewed and reinforced at home. Emphasize that no matter the situation they must act quickly to move away from the danger to safety.
Family Emergency Plans.
Develop and discuss a family emergency plan. Make sure your child knows (and has access to) important emergency contact information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. Your child should know and understand who is authorized to pick them up, who they are allowed to go with, and how they should get in contact with you in the event of an emergency. Make sure the school has the most updated and current information for emergency contacts – and update them every time it changes.
Advocate For School Safety Every Day.
Parents are powerful advocates for important improvements in school safety. Don’t know where to start? Ask your school critical questions about safety such as:
Have all school staff members been trained in all aspects of crisis response (such as medical emergencies, severe weather etc.), not just active shooter?
Is the school’s crisis plan or emergency operations plan reviewed and revised each year? Does it deal with all hazards, or just an active shooter?
Have students been given all hazards crisis response training that is appropriate to their age and developmental level?
Does your school have a parent reunification plan to reunite parents and students after an emergency event?
Parents and guardians have also been warned of taking pictures of their children and posting on social media platforms.
Vision Tactical received reports of concern from the public in previous years, urging parents and guardians to refrain from posting pictures of children with school emblems and logo’s.
Various warnings are being circulating on social media as well as precautionary advice being given.
“This can happen by posting pictures of their school uniform and giving information of their schools and where the child can be traced to and since there are so many users on social media, and technology moves so quickly, it’s often hard to contain posts that get out.”
Theba Shared A Few Tips On How To Post Photos Of Your Children Safely.
There’s no easier way to tell the world where you are, or were, than geotagging.
“Tagging your kids at their school allows those posts to come up in searches, so we advise people not to tag locations.”
-Erase Location Clues
Make sure any sort of personal way of identifying you or your children, such as your address, your kid’s school’s name, or a uniform that might identify what school they go to, is out of sight in any photo you post.
-Limit Your Audience
The easiest and most important step to keep your photos away from strangers who are potential threats is to simply adjust your privacy settings. Make your profiles restrictive or fully private.
COVID-19 in the classroom.
The past two years have proven difficult for many kids with distance learning, as it does not offer thevital resources they need to thrive. However we are still facing the threat of covid-19 and in-person classes put our kids at a higher risk of contracting the virus.
Here are a few ways to keep your kids as safe as possible from the virus while in school.
Making sure that all eligible children and adults get the COVID-19 vaccine is one part. When more kids are fully vaccinated, it means they are at a lower risk of getting severely sick from COVID-19. This means less time away from learning and more time for sports, friendships and activities.
Wearing a face mask
wearing a face mask is a simple, proven and effective tool to help stop the spread to students who are not eligible to receive the vaccine as yet. The mask should fit well and be worn correctly and consistently. Even most children with medical conditions can safely and effectively wear face masks with practice, support and role-modeling by adults.
While Physical distancing may not be possible in classes with larger numbers of students, kids should be encouraged to keep a minimum of 1.5m while on the playground and other areas of their school. When possible, schools should use outdoor spaces and unused spaces for instruction and meals to help with distancing. Activities like singing, band and exercising, for example, are safest outdoors and spread out.
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