School Crisis Prevention

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Crises in schools seem to be happening day after day. How can we keep our schools safe? Prevention may be the answer. This lesson will discuss school crisis prevention.

What Is A School Crisis?

When was the last time you heard about violence on a school campus? Whether it's bullying, gun violence, a contagious illness, or any other type of potential crisis at school, we can all agree that it does not belong in our schools. These things qualify as school crises.

According to the United States government, a school crisis is any circumstance where schools lack adequate information, time, staff or resources and yet require staff to act immediately to ensure the safety of students and stability of the situation. Other possible school crises might include security issues, a natural disaster, or a fire, for example.

No matter what type of crisis a school is facing, preparation is key. What does it mean to be prepared? What should schools be doing to prepare for crises on campus? Let's try to answer those questions now.

School Crisis Prevention

School crisis planning is essential in education. Adequate planning can protect property, prevent injury and save lives. Let's explore school crisis prevention more closely with some example crises.

It is an average day in Mrs. Story's third grade classroom. The students are filing in and placing their backpacks in their cubbies when all of a sudden, Mrs. Story hears a loud popping sound. One of students begins to scream while another shouts,''he has a gun!'' Could this crisis have been prevented?

Anytown Middle School has over 500 students and staff. The attendance monitor noticed that absences due to flu-like illnesses have doubled in the past week. What could school officials have done to prevent this outbreak?

Midwest High School has just started lunch service. It is storming outside, so all of the students are eating in the cafeteria. There is not enough seating and many are standing or sitting in the hallways and blocking entrances and exits. School officials have just been notified that there is a tornado on the ground just one mile from the school. How could proper prevention help in this situation?

Despite the fact that we have three very different school crises featured above, a similar plan for preparation would be beneficial in each case. Let's take a look at the essential steps for preventing a school crisis now.

Awareness and Education

You've probably heard the saying, '' see something, say something''. This speaks to awareness. Our examples feature one crisis with weapons on campus, another with an outbreak of illness on campus, and a third with a natural disaster. Each situation could be improved with an increase in awareness and education. For example, students, parents, staff, and communities should be made aware of the risks associated with potential school crises. This helps people spot problems before they occur.

Many schools rely on public service officials to create awareness and provide education on the risk for school crises. For example, a police officer might speak to students and families about gun safety. The school nurse could create awareness about flu season and educate students on the importance of hand-washing. A meteorologist might hold a school assembly on weather-related crises and teach the students and staff what to do in the case of a tornado. Each of these examples demonstrates prevention in terms of creating awareness and providing education toward prevention.

Safety Drills and Emergency Training

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