Developing a Safety Plan for Extracurricular Activities in K12 Schools
Many school all-hazards plans cover situations that occur during school hours but fail to cover situations of crisis that occur beyond the normal day of school. These off-hour activities often have fewer resources at their disposal to help with security needs, leaving it up to chaperones, coaches, and other school officials to protect participants. Without appropriate planning and training, this can leave schools and students vulnerable to unexpected threats.
When developing a safety plan for extracurricular activities, schools have many components to consider. The activity location can help schools coordinate security plans among similar groups, thereby reducing the need for individual plans to be developed for each group or team. Schools should also take stock of what type of support resources they will have at the event. Increasing the team leading an event can be helpful so that the safety burden does not fall on a single person. Parents, teachers, and members of the booster club can all be asked to assist in events with security and crowd management.
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At the beginning of the school opening or during the first meeting, schools should set safety expectations. Staff, students, and parents should have a clear idea of what to do in case of injury, weather, or other emergencies. Reminders and check-ins should take place regularly as people may forget what was outlined during an initial meeting, and checklists should be provided to ensure that nothing is missed.
Any good security plan is based on strong communication, and tools such as mass notification systems can help facilitate easier communication with large groups of people. A robust mass notification system will connect with many of the devices that a school already has, such as IP speakers and phones, digital signage, desktop computers, and mobile phones. For events that tend to involve people not typically on school grounds, posting signs that can text to receive safety alerts from a number of visitors will help keep everyone informed. Indoor events such as sports games can leverage IP speakers, and digital signage is a simple and effective way to share audio and text announcements. Outdoor events such as track meetings and cross-country events may require loud outdoor speakers and the aforementioned mobile alert strategy will be really helpful.