School safety will always be a concern for parents, students, teachers, principals, and the community. Although every school and community is extremely different, school safety still must be a priority to the school district. In order to protect students, teachers, faculty and staff, it is imperative that each school district has a detailed school district safety plan. In order to do this, each school must be examined very closely and each issue must be planned and prepped for. In addition to the safety plan, students, teachers, faculty and parents must be trained on each issue as well. This ensures that every person within the building or who is connected to someone in the building follows the safety protocols that have been set in order to have a successful safety plan for the district and each individual school.
Keywords: school safety plan, students, teachers, successful
The word safety has various definitions to every individual that is apart of a school district. Teachers can believe that safety is part of their job description. It is the duty of a teacher to create a safe environment for their students to grow and learn throughout the school year. Principals desire safety in their schools to provide a safe environment for students to learn but for their faculty and staff to work in a safe space. Superintendents make safety a priority in order to protect all students, teachers, faculty and staff from dangers that may pose as a threat to the success of the education that students need for their lives. There are many familiar safety issues that can have standard protocols across the board such as fire drills, tornado alerts, earthquakes and student fights. Fire drills, tornado alerts, and earthquakes are often practiced throughout the year and students are able to get familiar with the process of each drill in order to be prepared a real drill was to be sounded. Student fights are common, especially in high schools; therefore, these situations can be defused by following standard protocols as well. Chemical spills can also be common in a high school setting because most chemistry classes practice experiments. In the case of a chemical spill, students and teachers of the classroom and wing should be well vexed in what procedures to follow in order to remain safe.
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With the rise of technology, schools have seen an increase in bullying and cyberbullying. There are numerous negative side effects of bullying for everyone involved and in the most extreme cases, it can be a potential suicide, a hostage situation or an active shooter. In recent years, teen suicides and school shootings have skyrocketed. In some cases, hostage situations can also occur during an active shooter situation. These are extremely dangerous scenarios that require an enormous amount of preparation and planning order to keep all involved, safe from.
Schools have a responsibility to their students and employees to provide a safe learning environment. A large part of creating a safe learning environment is exercising concern and respect for others. Although it is not possible to address in police all matters related to creating and maintaining safe schools, safety issues, crisis management concerns, student discipline and other safety related subjects are addressed in policies. In schools, principals are responsible for ensuring that every individual in the school understands that safety and security are priorities and that all student and staff members share the responsibility to keep the school environment safe.
All aspects of school, from student and employee relations to instructional programming, and community access to the school facility, impact school safety. Specifically, school safety includes being aware of possible hazards, developing evacuation procedures, knowing the right steps to take to alleviate or prevent injury or harm to students and employees and to training all members of the school community on safe practices in the event of an emergency. The board of education policy charges the principal to develop procedures for keeping school facilities safe and free from hazards. Each principal is responsible for ensuring the safe operation of his or her school. Principals should also foster a learning and working environment that instills respect for self and others, discipline and responsibility.
The school district safety plan will ensure that all schools within the district have standard protocols for certain dangers and threats. The plan will be available to teachers, faculty and staff, parents, and any other stakeholders within the district. The document will be reviewed annually, or if changes need to be made. The emergency response guide will be posted in each classroom, including the gym, auditorium, and any offices which includes the main office. Teachers will be responsible for sharing the procedures for each safety concern with their students when each semester begins. Teachers and staff will also be trained in CPR, active shooter drills, and other safety related situations in order to make certain that these individuals are well vexed in the procedures in the event of an emergency. Principals at each school will be responsible for making sure that trainings are scheduled and kept up to date for their employees.
- To ensure the safety of all students, teachers, faculty, staff, and stakeholders
- To identify the safety concerns and possible threats to the district or its schools
- To outline the districts standard safety procedures and protocols, including contact information, emergency personnel, etc.
- To stay up-to-date on safety regulations within the state of Tennessee in order to maintain an effective and successful emergency response guide
- To educate all students, faculty, staff, stakeholders and community on the importance of safety and how safety drills can be beneficial to the result of an emergency situation
- To provide access to safety trainings for all school employees such as Stop the Bleed, Active Shooter Training and CPR.
Campus Safety and Security
Claiborne County Schools are dedicated to the education of the students within the district. The county understands that safety goes along with the education of our youth. Claiborne County Schools strive to create a safe learning environment where all students can receive an education that will help them to be successful in all ways. Claiborne County Schools have prepared a school district safety plan that will ensure that all schools and its inhabitants will have access to safety trainings, drills, procedures and an updated safety plan each school year. Claiborne county school shave derived a list of intervention programs below that students, parents and the community are active in the school district.
The Claiborne County School District conducts programs for students, staff, and parents such as:
- LEAPS After School Program
- Athletic Programs
- Theater Arts
- Fire Safety Program
- Freshman Academy
- Freshman Mentors
- Foreign Exchange Student Program
- Student Support Services
- Various Clubs such as FFA, FCCLA, Skills USA
Training, Drills, and Exercises
- The Claiborne County School District will review the school district safety program at the beginning of each school year, before the first county-wide inservice. The review of the safety program will be edited to ensure the dates of trainings that staff are required to attend such as Stop the Bleed, Active Shooter Training and CPR/AED certifications. Teachers will be able to provide students and parents with information regarding safety issues after trainings have taken place.
- SRO’s will be on staff at each school and will hold a training with each department/hallway of each school in the district. The meeting will consist of detailed safety protocols for each hallway/department and each classroom, as well.
- Each teacher is a designated hall monitor. In between classes, teachers are on duty in the hallways to ensure the safety of all students such as preventing fights or any other form of violence. Principals will meet with each hallway/department head to discuss safety concerns and procedures for conflict resolution. Department/hallway leaders will then hold a meeting with their peers to make further safety plans that are individualized.
- Anti-Bullying initiatives will be active at each school and information on these programs will be given out to students, parents, and all other faculty and staff.
Implementation of School Security
- All visitors must report to the main office. Each school will have a bell that will ring to the secretary. There will be a camera that shows the secretary who is ringing the bell. The secretary will buzz the visitor in and they must sign in on the visitors sign in list and put a visitors sticker on their clothing that states their name. The visitor will then be escorted to their destination within the school by a school employee or student intern in the office.
- Bus duty will be implemented for each school in the district. These employees make sure that students are accounted for before and after school. This helps to reduce conflict or violent behaviors.
Vital Educational Agency Information
Important contact information for all staff and personnel is kept in the principals office. Emergency contact information for students will be stored in the guidance counselors office, as well as the front office and can be found on the ASPEN portal. Teachers will have access to emergency contact information for the students that they have in class.
• Cumberland Gap High School
• Main office: 423-869-6269
• Guidance: 423-869-0543
• H.Y. Livesay Middle School
• Main office: 423-869-7129
• Guidance: 423-869-8008
• Midway Middle School
• Main office: 423-869-7890
• Guidance: 423-869-0987
• Powell Valley Elementary School
• Main office: 423-869-8765
• Guidance: 423-869-6543
• Forge Ridge Elementary School
• Main office: 423-969-0976
• Guidance: 423-869-7765
• Soldiers Memorial Elementary School
• Main office: 423-869-9854
• Guidance: 423-869-1243
• Midway Elementary School
• Main office: 423-869-4532
• Guidance: 423-869-654
• TNT Elementary School
• Main office: 423-869-9988
• Guidance: 423-869-6262
• Lone Jack Elementary School
• Main office: 423-869-3883
• Guidance: 423-869-7643
Early Detection of Potentially Violent Behaviors
Pre-incident strategies are outlined below:
- Take threats seriously: threats and the person(s) making them must be dealt with immediately. Although the person making the threat cannot be prosecuted, it should be assessed and dealt with administratively. Assaults may be committed without touching or actually causing physical harm. Specific sanctions and procedures should be implemented for such behaviors.
- Use professional judgment and discretion. We must react without overreacting. Threats and rumors must be assessed accurately. This should include administrators, school guidance counselors, school psychologists, and if need be, school officers.
- Create threat assessment protocol. Specific procedures are in place for teachers, administrators, staff and parents for handling threats. If threat is deemed serious, then school security shall be involved.
- Increase adult visibility. All the technology, cameras, and metal detectors in the school cannot take the place of an adult’s physical present. Staff, adult volunteers and any adult mentor being physically present is the single most important factor in controlling school violence.
- Students and the information they provide are essential to having a safe school. Communication with students must be a priority. Establish at each school a “concern” box or “suggestion” box where students may anonymously place reports of any threats, intimidation, or concerns they may have.
- The Claiborne County School System has a current Safety Director who is in constant contact with the Tazewell and New Tazewell Police Departments and the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department. Each school needs to ensure that they have a sound working relationship that is guided by the Safety Director.
For all Emergency Services (police, fire, ambulance), dial 911. Inform the 911 dispatcher of your exact location on the campus and briefly state the emergency. Remain on the phone, if possible until help arrives, If it becomes necessary to transport anyone to the hospital by ambulance for serious injuries, ensure that a staff member accompanies them to serve as liaison between the hospital and school administration. The accompanying staff member should be instructed to relay progress reports as often as possible.
Immediately report the crisis to:
Linda Keck: Director of Claiborne County Schools or her designee
Office: 423-626-3543 Work Cell: 423-834-3219 Home: 423-581-9723
Bob Oakes: Assistant Director of Schools / Safety Director
Office: 423-626-3543 Work Cell- 423-300-7869 Home: 423-626-4366
Immediately notify and assemble the Crisis Management teams for each school. The chain of command is as follows: principal, assistant principal, school resource officer, counselor.
• The Crisis-Management team at each school in the Claiborne County School District will work together to to assess all damages of traumatic events in order to efficiently help each student.
• Guidance counselors will be on scene to help with students as well.
• Parents will be given supports to help their students with processing the emergency situation.
The Claiborne County School District also recognizes information from the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that suggests that children who go through traumatic episodes may show a variety of psychological problems, including:
- Poor peer relationships
- Strained relationships within the family
- Low self-esteem
- Decreased in school activities and performance
- Sexualized behavior (in cases of sexual abuse)
- Delayed emotional development
- Depression and anger
- Decline in physical health
- Substance abuse
- Fears, anger and guilt
- Feeling ashamed
- Disturbing memories or flashbacks
- Repeated nightmares and dreams of death
- Belief in omens and prediction of disastrous future events
- Pessimism about the future and expectation of early death
- Avoiding reminders of traumatic experiences
- Fear of re-experiencing traumatic anxiety
- Feeling constantly on guard, nervous and jumpy
Students that are exhibiting these types of behaviors need to be closely monitored. The information provided should also be relayed to parents in order for parents to closely monitor their children. After an emergency situation, the school should have a crisis management meeting with each department to discuss the proper procedures that teachers will have to use in order to successfully support their students.
School Plan for Potential Threats
Procedures for student vs. student fights:
Faculty should make every attempt possible to stop a fight before it becomes physically violent whenever possible. Some keys to early intervention include:
- Don’t ignore the warning signs
- Get assistance from another staff member
- Remove all other students from the area
- Approach the combatants calmly and confidently
- Assume a supportive stance, off to the side and away from both individuals
- Use a distraction such as a shout, blink the lights, or clap before communicating with the students
- Use firm, non-verbal commands that are calm, supportive and rational
- Set and enforce reasonable limits
- Separate the combatants and allow them time to calm down
If a fight ensues, do not jump into the middle of the fight. Physical intervention should be the last resort and it should be a team effort. First try verbal interventions. If a staff member is alone and a fight begins:
- Get assistance
- Remove all obstacles and possible weapons
- Remove any onlookers
- Attempt verbal intervention
Procedures for Student Disturbance:
- Follow the instructions of the school administrator or person in charge
- Make a list of students that are absent from your class
- Ensure that your classroom door is locked
- Do not allow students to leave your room for any reason, unless you receive word from an administrator
- Keep our grade book, seating chart, and purse/briefcase/book bag handy along with the emergency response folder
- Remain calm and in control. Try to keep your students calm
- Do not speculate as to the nature to extent of the incident. Do not discuss the incident with your students. Inform your students that the Administration will update the students and staff as soon as possible.
- Document names, descriptions, etc., or anything you hear from the students which you think may be helpful for later.
Procedures for Tornado Alert
During severe weather, the principal will be alerted to any possibilities of Tornado Activity via telephone or by NOAA Weather Radio. The principal or his designee will then place the building on Tornado Alert by announcing a CODE TORNADO over the public address system. In the event of a Tornado Alert everyone should:
- Stay away from all exterior windows and doors and get down on the floor. Everyone should remain quiet and listen for further instructions given over the public address system.
- Everyone should try to remain calm and teachers should try to reassure students.
- Teachers should do a roll call as quickly as the storm has passed and notify the principal or his designee of any unaccounted for students.
Procedures for Earthquake
In the event of an earthquake, the principal or his designee will announce CODE EARTHQUAKE over the intercom. Faculty should attempt to protect themselves as well as their students from falling objects. All person should attempt the following:
- Get beneath a desk, table or bench. If possible cover your head with a book or clothing items such as coats to minimize injury.
- If books or clothing are unavailable, get inside a doorway or crouch against an inside wall of the room and cover your head with your arms. Stay away from outside walls, windows, or other expanses of glass.
Procedures for Fires
In the event you observe a fire inside or near the building you should immediately activate the nearest fire alarm. If you believe the fire is manageable, attempt to extinguish it with the nearest fire extinguisher. In the event of a fire, the fire alarm will sound, the emergency doors located on the pods and exits will automatically close. You may also hear the principal or designee announce a CODE FIRE over the intercom. In the event of a code fire, all persons should:
- Exit the building according to the posted evacuation plan designated for each classroom or area
- Students must walk, not run, as rapidly as possible out the nearest exit without crowding others. The teacher will check to see that all students are out of the room and shall close the door upon exiting.
- All students and teachers will move to their disunited area outside and wait for the all-clear signal before re-entry.
- Teachers are responsible for ensuring that students move away from the building
- Teachers are also responsible to complete a roll call of their students once they are safely away from the building and immediately report any unaccounted for students to the principal or his designee.
Procedures for Chemical Spill
Due to our geographic location in relation to the railroad, U.S. Highway 25-E and State Route 33 and Highway 63, the chances of a chemical spill or ash fallout are always a possibility. In the event of such hazards, spills or chemical fumes all persons should:
- Seek shelter immediately. Keep everyone inside the building.
- Ensure that all windows and vents are closed
- Turn off heat and air conditioning systems
- Do not step in any spilled materials
- Principal or his designee will establish contact with police, fire, health department, and the central office.
- If persons are caught outside they should quickly move up-wind.
Procedures for Potential Suicide
Suicide among teens is a growing epidemic across America and suicide prevention in the entire school family’s responsibility. In the event someone indicates to you that they are considering suicide, you should use the following guidelines:
• Under no circumstances should you leave the student alone
• Talk to the student as you determine if there are dangerous instruments in close proximity an remove such instruments if possible
Accompany the student to the School Counselor or principal who should do the following
• Assess the degree of risk
• Implement the schools’ suicide intervention plan
• Contact the students’ parents/guardians and plan with them how to help the student
• The police, (911) and/or the Department of Children’s Services (1-877-213-0007), may need to be involved if the parents are unwilling to help.
• Refer parents/guardians to appropriate services from physicians, mental health professionals, and/or community agencies.
• Police involvement may be required in situations where the student is assessed to be in immediate danger and their parents cannot be located or are unable to help.
Procedures for Gun or Other Dangerous Weapon on Campus
When a student is suspected of or in possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon:
- Send a sealed note immediately to principal, assistant principals, or the SRO.
- Two administrators and/or SRO are to accompany the suspected student to a private office. Remain close to the student at all times and instruct him/her to keep his/her arms to their side.
- Check the students clothing and book bags. The extent of intrusiveness of the search of the student’s person may increase based on the level of suspicion. Respect the student’s privacy.
- Check the suspected student’s locker, with SRO or law enforcement if available.
- If there is a reason to suspect that a friend of the student might be in possession of the weapon, escort that student to the office for a person/locker search.
- Prior to the search, inform the student as to why they are being searched.
- Allow the student the opportunity to explain his/her side of the story
- Document and date what you did and why you did it.
- If a weapon is located, the principal will immediately notify the SRO or call 911.
- The student should then be arrested and transported off campus.
If information is received that a student has a fun in a locker:
**Remember, the principal has enhanced search and seizure authority on the school campus.
- Two administrators and the SRO should search and inspect the locker
- If a weapon is found, the student should be turned over to the SRO, arrested, and transported off campus
- Should a student report that another student has a weapon; get as much information as possible.
- If a student should pull a gun on you, do no try to disarm them. Remain as calm as possible, back away, and instruct the student to put down the gun. Do not threaten the student. If possible, have someone notify the principal immediately.
- If a student is searched for a suspected weapon and no weapon is found, be sure to inform the parents/guardians as to why you conducted the search. If an arrest is made, an administrator or a police officer will notify the parent/guardian.
**In the event that a SRO is not available, call law enforcement to send an officer.
Procedures for Intruders in the Building
The first person to notice the intruder (person with a gun or weapon, person who is acting suspicious or out of control, etc.) should notify the principal or person in charge. The lockdown announcement of CODE LOCKDOWN will be made to signify the beginning of the lockdown procedure. Students are to be cleared from the halls immediately and to report to nearest available classroom.
• Lock your classroom door.
• Do not allow students to leave the classroom for any reason.
• Ensure that everyone is seated on the floor nearest an interior wall and away from windows and doors until you receive further notice.
• Ensure that all windows and blinds are closed.
• Staff should communicate to the office any information regarding the intruder.
• Principal will notify the police and central office of the situation.
• Shut off lights, remain quiet. Wait for further instructions.
Procedures for Active Shooter
The following list is how to respond when an active shooter is in your vicinity:
• Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Students are likely to follow lead of teachers and administrators during an active shooter situation.
• Have an escape route and plan in mind
• Leave your belongings behind
• Keep our hands visible
• Hide out:
• Hide in an area out of the active shooter’s view
• Block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors
• Take Action:
• As a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger
• Attempt to incapacitate the active shooter
• Act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter
• Call 911 when it is safe to do so
Critical Response Things to Do in the First Twenty Minutes:
- Dial 911: location of the incident, type of incident, number of injured, number and location of the intruders, description of the intruders and weapons, whether or not the SRO is at the school, and his location
- Notify all school personnel of school wide lockdown using a verbal code
- Secure the main office and retrieve the critical response kit
- Notify the superintendents office
- Switch bell system from automatic to manual
- Check classroom status and make notes
- Meet and assist law enforcement officials
- Immediately clear students from hallways
- Close and lock all windows and doors
- Move students away from windows and doors
- Make sure students are quiet and cannot be seen from any door or window
- Turn off lights
- Barricade the door with desks, shelves, cabinets, etc.
Procedures for Hostage Situations
If a hostage situation occurs in your classroom or area of supervision:
- Do not panic. Help the students to stay calm and avoid any quick movements.
- Follow the instructions of the hostage taker(s). Instruct your students to do the same.
- Do no try to be a hero/heroine by attacking or trying to disarm the attacker(s).
- Don’t bargain or try to negotiate with the hostage taker(s), this is the responsibility of professionals.
- Keep your grade book and seating chart. Know who is absent from class that day.
- Follow the instructions of the law enforcement hostage negotiator.
Emergency Action Plan for Parents and other Stakeholders
Emergency and crisis communications are frequently overlooked or considered by many to be non-essential to reaching a desired outcome while dealing with an emergency or crisis situation. This attitude can be detrimental to an organization’s ability to deal with an emergency since it leads to uninformed stakeholders and audiences, rampant circulation of rumors, and a decline in how an organization is perceived by its members and other stakeholder groups. While an emergency may be a crisis, a crisis is not necessarily an emergency. An emergency is generally a short-lived communication challenge while a crisis is of much longer duration. If not handled appropriately, an emergency communication challenge can easily develop into a crisis. This plan goes further in many areas of communication than is generally required for effective emergency management communication but it is important the Claiborne County School administrators be prepared to address both emergency and crisis communications.
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Parents and other stakeholders need to be patient with the situation. Do not repeatedly call 911 as you could block the phone way for administrators to communicate with emergency personnel. Do not come to the school during an emergency situation. This ensures the safety of parents and other stakeholders as well as the students and other inside the building.
It is the duty of the Claiborne County School District to ensure the safety of all its’ students that attend a school within the district. The Claiborne County School District prides itself on the cooperation and abiding of the TILS standards, for this plan, standard b and the PSEL standards. There are many emergency situations that can take place in our schools and this plan maps out possible scenarios, prevention strategies, response procedures and recovery information. In the event that students, parents or other stakeholders are not satisfied with this safety plan, they can direct specific questions to the school board, central office, or school administration.
- Administrator Evaluation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://team-tn.org/evaluation/administrator-evaluation/
- Kerr, M. M., & King, G. (2019). School crisis prevention & intervention. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
- National Center for PTSD. (2018, May 31). Retrieved from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/awareness/index.asp
- PSEL. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://npbea.org/psel/
- School Safety Plan [Personal interview]. (2019, July 22).
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