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Strengthening School Safety Communications

Most schools have positive measures in place to enhance school safety, but many do not communicate what they are doing to the school community.

Beef up school safety communications through the following strategies:

? Maintain a school safety Web page. Create and update a dedicated page on your district’s Web site focusing exclusively on school safety issues. Post tips for parents (drop-off and pick-up driving spots around school, visitor sign-in, cybersafety parent resources), on where and how to get emergency notices from the district, prevention and intervention programs for students, features on school resource officers (SROs) and security staff and related information. Add a link on individual school Web pages that connect to the district’s safety or security Web page.

? Engage parents in school safety planning. Add parent representatives to building- and district-level crisis teams. Encourage the district’s parent organization to form a school safety committee. Provide speakers on safety issues for parent meetings. Communicate safety and crisis issues regularly in parent newsletters and online networks.

? Promote school safety in local media. Promote school safety topics to local radio and TV public affairs programs. Use district and/or community cable TV shows to highlight safety and crisis-preparedness programs. Work with student newspapers on student-focused stories on school safety topics (bullying, cybersafety, crisis drills, etc.).

? Dedicate board meeting time for school safety. Highlight positive prevention, security and preparedness measures at board meetings throughout the school year. Keep your board informed on school safety, and engage board members as active partners in school safety initiatives.

? Maintain a crisis communications plan. Create and update a formal crisis communications plan separate from, but coordinated with, school emergency guidelines. Stay out in front on communications regarding security threats and text-messaged rumors, and have a plan ready for communicating during crises. Train district and building administrators on managing parent and media communications on safety and crisis issues.