Reopening K-12 Schools

How do schools reopen in the fall with the ever-changing COVID-19 recommendations? The CDC provides some guidance.

We have been so impressed with school districts’ ability to adapt to the COVID-19 restrictions going on throughout Colorado. Currently, we are working with districts on continuing trainings for the next school year. We are also having discussions about what the school climate may look like in the fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the leading, national public health institute of the United States. They have provided a decision tree to assist administrators in making school reopening decisions regarding K-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of course, districts need to take their local and state recommendations into consideration. This could be a useful tool for administrators looking toward the 2020-2021 school year.
Want to discuss with us? Contact us.

CDC’s Tool to Assist Administrators’ Decision-Making During the COVID-19 Pandemic

2020 Grant Funding

Funding is being allocated to improve school safety throughout the country.
What are you doing to improve the safety in your schools?

Here at SchoolSAFE, we pride ourselves in our ability to empower community partnerships. Throughout our trainings, we encourage school safety teams and public safety personnel to work together to improve their communications during an emergency.

An added bonus during these trainings occurs when ideas are shared and improvements are made between the professional first responders and those in charge at the school. Many times, discussions for improvement include the necessity of funding to accomplish what was talked about.

Because of the current climate in school safety, there are many opportunities to apply for funding. Improvements to schools in their communications efforts, controlled access, interoperability, and safety personnel are all included in the multiple grants currently open for application.

For example, here in Colorado, the SAFER Grant is available to provide hardware, software, and training for interoperable communications to K-12 schools.

Throughout the country, the Department of Justice has a nation-wide grant, due March 3.
We strongly encourage all interested groups to apply, it is worth the effort to potentially get funding to improve your school(s) and district safety measures. There are also classes you can take in your local communities if you need help in understanding how to effectively write for a grant.

Click the links to learn more.

Colorado
SAFER Grant

Nationwide
DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance

Community Partnership

The empowerment of stakeholders working together and improving school safety.

We recently planned and facilitated a tabletop exercise for a rural Colorado school district and their public safety community partners. This exercise reminded us of how important community partners are to school safety. It also reminded us of how community partnerships are based on teamwork, relationships, and a commitment by the various agencies and private sector partners.

Safe Schools Act

For instance, in Colorado, the Safe Schools Act describes safety and security activities and expectations for schools. Within the Act, the concept of school safety “community partners” includes a large number of groups. For example, local fire departments, state and local law enforcement, local 911 agencies, interoperable communications providers, the Safe2Tell program… As well as local emergency medical service personnel, local mental health organizations, local public health agencies, local emergency management personnel, local or regional homeland security personnel, and school resource officers.

As an interoperable communications provider, SchoolSAFE has had to define what the role of a private sector community partner could, or should, be. Simply providing equipment to enable two-way radio interoperable communications did not seem to meet the spirit and intent of the Safe Schools Act. As a result, we’ve expanded our services portfolio to include a number of services. These include training and exercises directly related to school-based emergency communications, school Crisis Management plans and Emergency Operations plans, and school-based emergency exercise planning and facilitation based on the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP).

Two-Way Radios

A part of a long-term attempt to improve school safety in this community has included two-way radio infrastructure, interoperable communications infrastructure and related safety team training, and a complete revision of the District Crisis Management Plan along with an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) specific to each school. This was followed by a 22-month project to deliver a series of exercises. Our best thinking led us to the conclusion that assigning one project manager to this series of projects would enable the SchoolSAFE PM to develop a deep understanding of the schools, the district, and the community. They would be providing the opportunity to establish relationships with leadership and other staff from the district, each school, department, and outside agency. The result is each PM has a deep sense of commitment, responsibility, and ownership for the success of each community’s journey to maximize school safety.

With all that said, the real reasons for these major improvements in school safety can be credited to the commitment of stakeholders. These stakeholders include the school district and its central leadership, the principals and other school leadership staff, the public safety agencies that serve the school community, and the emergency communications Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). Each agency has been actively involved to understand issues, provide input, review plans, and have commitment to an ongoing training and exercise program. While a very good relationship existed between Public Safety and the School district prior to this series of projects mentioned above, the teamwork during the past 27 months has deepened those relationships and continues to improve the capacity of each agency. This will mitigate the effects of a school emergency, respond to incidents when they happen, and to recover from incidents.