Back-to-school doesn't have to mean back-to-worrying. Though safety inside your child's school is ultimately the responsibility of the principal and school staff, parents can take a few basic steps to ensure a safe school experience, too. These are recommended by the National Association of Elementary School Principals:
- Learn the school's emergency procedures. Emergency plans and phone numbers are usually included in school handbooks and posted in classrooms. Taking a few extra minutes to familiarize yourself and your child with emergency information can give him the confidence he needs to act quickly in emergency situations.
- Know travel routes to and from the school. Make sure you and your child know both primary and alternate routes. In an emergency, roads can be blocked and it's important to have a backup plan.
- Know and follow school security and safety measures. These might include signing in when visiting the school, being escorted when walking through the building, or wearing a visitor pass. Following these procedures also sets a great example for your kids.
- Talk with your child about safety. Be specific. Talk about instinct and paying attention to funny feelings of fear. Explain what to do if she doesn't feel safe (find a teacher, call 911, etc.). Make sure she knows how to contact you or a trusted neighbor who is likely to be at home.
- Inform school staff about health and emotional concerns. Whether your child has a food allergy, a physical disability, or has been subject to bullying, make sure to keep your child's teachers and principal in the loop.
- Get involved. Talk with the principal about what you can do to increase school safety, such as organizing parents to form a neighborhood watch before and after school. Sometimes parent groups are highly successful in making improvements in traffic safety during drop off and pick up times.