Top Ten Questions Parents Need to Ask Before a Crisis Occurs
1. Does the school have a School Crisis Team or Resource Officers?
The school should have a school safety team that is in charge of developing plans and assessing security issues. It is their role to develop an overall plan for prevention, intervention and preparedness for each crisis situation. For example, suicide, intruder, chemical spill, etc.
2. Have the school employees, including support personnel, received training on school security and crisis preparedness issues?
Ongoing training should be part of the process. Everyone involved in the school should know how to follow procedures and have a basic understanding of the Incident Command System (ICS). This would include secretaries, custodians and support staff. Local, state and national specialists can provide ongoing training. These instructors should have a knowledge of K-12 safety issues.
3. Do school officials have ongoing school safety assessments that are measured by outside resources?
School officials should have a relationship with police, local health department, security specialists, fire and other public safety officials. They should have direct input into developing safety plans.
4. Does the school work with outside resources to coordinate safety plans?
The school should be working with their Local Emergency Planning Committee, fire, police, health department, hosptials, EMS, etc.
5. How will the school notify me in case of an emergency?
- In most cases there is a auto dialing system put in place that will fax, email or call and leave a message on whatever number and mode you chose to be notified. This is why it is important for you to notify the school of any changes in your personal contact information.
- Stay away from the school and wait for further instruction. It is understandable that you want to make sure your child is okay but by going onsite, you may be putting yourself in danger and impeding the process.
6. How are visitors allowed into the school?
They should have to sign in and wear an ID to identify who they are.
7. Are there written policies and procedures and an overall plan on security and emergency preparedness?
Policies and procedures need to be written down and updated periodically. It is important because people move, jobs change and new situations may come to light. The plans and procedures are there so that anyone just walking in could follow and know what to do.
8. Are the policies and plans reviewed, exercised, evaluated and updated periodically (yearly) for the most current information?
- Plans need to be exercised and tested. Sometimes what looks good on paper will not translate to an actual real life situation. Plans should be considered a living document.
- Full scale exercises, tabletop exercises and practice drills should occur and be written into the plans.
9. Do parents and students have a seat on the School Crisis Team?
It is important for students and parents to have input because their perspective is unique and they may want to address concerns that are unique to their own requirements and fears.
10. Does the school have access to psychological support?
Ongoing psychological support should be provided during and after a crisis.