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School Safety Beyond the Basics

The essentials for ensuring a safe environment

District and school safety plans and compliance measures are a start, but how do you move beyond the basics to accurately assess the preparedness of your staff and students?

This web seminar discussed the most current recommendations for school safety and emergency preparedness that every administrator should understand, as well as practical advice and best practices to implement in any school or district when it comes to safety and security. 

Catherine Finger

Retired Superintendent

Grayslake Community High School 127 (Illinois)

Business Development Manager

NaviGate Prepared

Thom Jones

General Manager

NaviGate Prepared

Catherine Finger: The phrase we use to capture what we did in our district is very simple: “Every student, every day.” Over the years, NaviGate Prepared became one of the arrows in our arsenal around school safety, and it has made a difference in our district.

We have experienced success over time in a variety of areas, but I believe that success begins with safety. While there were many things that I was proud about as a high school superintendent, the thing I used to hear from parents that used to make my heart sing was that their students felt loved in our district. That deep need for all of us to belong to something greater than ourselves, to feel safe, to feel secure, to feel deeply embedded, is what makes a difference in terms of connectedness in the school setting.

We relied on NaviGate Prepared to help us develop and build upon what was already a deeply established sense of security and safety. NaviGate Prepared helped us take that to the next level.

School safety is always in the back of your mind as a school leader. We’re worried—not only about building our school board members up every year, and not only about doing more with less, as is often the direction in many of our districts, but we are worried in the back of our mind about school safety. That old adage, “safety first,” is true. We know that school emergencies happen at the least convenient times. Having a good system in place, having your administrators practiced in routines, knowing how to direct staff so that you don’t have to think about it in times of crisis, can lead to peace of mind. Having a strong system in place improves the performance of your team and builds a sense of synergy.

We were fortunate about four and a half years ago to be invited to serve as a demo site for NaviGate Prepared. We were able to expand that sense of peace of mind to many of our colleagues throughout the district. NaviGate Prepared, as I discovered as a high school superintendent, wasn’t just about a product. NaviGate Prepared strives to be thought leaders around school safety. They have abundant resources available to them within the school safety environment. I’ve met some amazing individuals, and I’m looking forward to meeting many more.

Thom Jones: There were basically two defining moments around school safety over the past 20 years. The first was the Columbine incident in 1999. The second was Sandy Hook in 2012. There were a lot of incidents that occurred both between those two events and then afterward as well. But those two in particular were definitely the most defining moments in terms of what we did as a country, on a state level and on the local level—whether it was throwing more money into school safety, investing in various types of products, or coming up with compliance regulations around safety plans and drill log requirements.

For the most part, those were reactionary types of decisions and solutions. Where we come in is that as opposed to reacting to emergencies and situations, we want you to respond to those. Ultimately, we want to provide you with peace of mind. When you have peace of mind around school safety, your staff will be able to act appropriately and act responsibly.

We want people to respond, not react. When we react, we do so based on emotion; a lot of times it’s not the best and most sound decision. When we respond, we do so based on the belief in our mind that we’ve been in that type of situation before and we’re going to make an appropriate decision. We have to equip our staff in how to respond to those various types of emergencies. 

That’s where we come in as a company with our NaviGate Prepared solution, where we assist you in the development, the maintenance and the execution of an effective school safety program.

Our NaviGate Prepared dashboard facilitates the organization of all the information around school safety, including emergency call lists at the district level and at the building level. It includes a documents section for any safety document that you may have, including maps and floor plans, which you’re able to share with first responders so they can use them for planning and preparation. There’s also a virtual binder section, flip charts, drill logs, safety plans, and Respond, which is a way to account for students during an alarm.

We put all that information together for you—all that safety information within your district and within the building. We organize that within your NaviGate Prepared system, where you’re able to control the level of access for your staff, whether that’s district-level administrators, building-level administrators or first responders. Whomever it might be, you control the access to that information.

We also work with you to plan and execute drills. We provide written and audio drill scenarios that you can use to build up a stress inoculation in the minds of your staff—so they are equipped to respond, instead of react, in an emergency. Every drill should be based on a scenario and administered by your staff. We want to equip them with the knowledge of how to make a proper response, because they are much more likely to notice a dangerous situation than an administrator. We want to teach them “your safety first, then your students.” We do this every time in a drill to build up that stress inoculation.

What we’re doing is equipping principals with a culture of safety and security. We’re building on layers of peace of mind. Your success is our goal. We have a safety solution that we’re going to work with you to develop, maintain and execute.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit: www.districtadministration.com/ws091217

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