Every school’s top priority is to help prepare its students to become productive members of society. To be successful in that endeavor, all schools need to be places where everyone feels safe and secure.
A recent Gallup Poll
found 35% of parents expressed fear for their child’s safety at school, while one in five parents said their child had expressed similar fears regarding safety. The numbers back up this concern, with over 10,600
disruptive threats occurring nationwide according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
While threats can occur at any time, many districts already have the tools in place to prepare their communities for safety breaches. Take Mooresville School Corporation, Center Grove Community Schools, and MSD Wayne Township, for example. All three Indiana districts, located in the Indianapolis area, have used Skyward’s Student Management Suite to enhance security and improve communication in the event of a disruptive incident. Whether it’s guarding against unwelcome visitors or preparing for unexpected fire alarms, students, parents and staff all feel higher levels of safety and confidence.
"Skyward helps us keep students
safe with speed and accuracy –
the two most important factors
during an emergency."
Screening parents, vendors and other visitors isn’t just a good idea; it’s the difference between creating a safe environment and allowing potential threats. In most cases, district staff are the first line of defense against potentially threatening visitors. However, without the proper data and screening tools, district employees are left to rely on their intuition.
At Mooresville School Corporation
, no visitor is left unchecked thanks to Skyward and the district’s visitor management system.
“I love the API interface between our visitor management system and Skyward. It’s constantly extracting live information, so we always know who is authorized to pick up a student or step foot on our campuses,” explained Jacque Deckard, the district’s data management coordinator.
Just north of Mooresville, MSD Wayne Township
, a district of 16,000 students, is having similar success preventing unwelcome visitors from accessing school grounds.
“We’ve had issues where someone had a restraining order to stay away from school property, but they showed up to one of our locations. With the help of Skyward we were able to contact the school and put a lockdown in place,” said Thelma Webb, data systems manager at MSD Wayne Township. “That day we not only kept one student safe, we kept every student safe. Without Skyward’s data and communication tools, that may have never happened.”
"With the help of Skyward we were able to contact the school
and put a lockdown in place...That day we not only kept one
student safe, we kept every student safe. "
Even with the proper information and alerts set up in Skyward, every second counts when an unexpected incident occurs. With the help of Skyward’s custom forms, Mooresville has prepared code red drill forms which extract live student and emergency contact information in case of an emergency.
“Skyward’s custom forms keep us prepared for any emergency by making it quicker for someone to pull up the most pertinent student information,” explained Deckard. “Not everyone on our crisis team uses Skyward every day, but the code red drill forms we’ve created eliminate the need to search for information or master Skyward. All the safety data they need is in one place.”
To add an extra layer of security, Mooresville hands out key fobs to match students with the correct family member in the event of a crisis. When a student enters the district, they are given two key fobs, one for each of their parents or guardians. Each key fob is created without names to prevent security issues if it’s lost or stolen and pulls up the correct student information when scanned by the parent.
“Our goal as a large district is to make sure we reunite parents with the correct student and avoid handing them off to someone we shouldn’t,” explained Deckard. “Skyward helps us keep students safe with speed and accuracy—the two most important factors during an emergency.”
"Without Skyward’s data
and communication tools, that may have never happened."
Anonymous Tip Line
Technology and data can play a large role in preventing threats to students, but what about the people foreseeing threats firsthand? All three districts strongly believe the most overlooked asset for keeping students safe are the students, teachers, and parents themselves, which is why each created an anonymous tip line within Skyward.
Each district used Skylert
, Skyward’s automated messaging solution, to set up a quick tip feature for their district. Any person within the district can submit an anonymous tip by selecting which category the tip falls into and choosing to give their name or remain anonymous and submit photos with their tip. Tips can range anywhere from bullying and drug concerns to minor rule infractions.
“It’s important for our students, parents and faculty to be heard and feel comfortable. Thanks to Skyward, this is possible because they can remain anonymous and still voice safety concerns,” explained Lora Lovelace, coordinator of data management at Center Grove Community Schools.
As an added benefit, the anonymous tip line has raised administrator awareness throughout each district. When a tip category is submitted, the concern is relayed to the correct school leader, who receives a notification of the tip. Whether the concern relates to a student, teacher or parent, the correct school leader is notified and given an opportunity to follow up with the incident or de-escalate a threat.
“Even though the tips are anonymous, it has brought awareness to our administrators and opened their eyes to what may be going on or things they should be aware of,” explained Webb.
“Our administrators don’t take a callous attitude toward the tips because only the specific people who are set up to get notified of a certain tip receive notifications. The people who need to know, know, and that’s the most important part,” added Deckard.
And if other administrators are concerned about the anonymous tip line being abused at their districts, all three leaders stress those fears should be put to rest.
“We have just over 8,000 students and I get about three or four tips per week,” explained Lovelace. “A vast majority of the tips are legitimate, serious concerns where students have been in tune to their peers and noticed something wasn’t right.”
Districts such as Mooresville, Center Grove and MSD Wayne Township are model examples of safety done right. Students, parents and staff all have the tools and processes in place to feel safer and more confident each day they walk through the door. Who knew school safety could be impacted this much by an SIS?