In response to the tragic attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, Secure Community Network (SCN) coordinated and hosted a special webinar with the US Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and experts on school security from Margolis, Healy & Associates. The webinar reviewed and discussed lessons learned from past events, best practices and cost effective security recommendations that schools and other organizations should consider as part of their preparedness, crisis management and response planning.
School safety and security information was reviewed to a full-capacity webinar/conference call of 1000-1200 participants from institutions and organizations across the nation. While not every emergency and act of violence is 100% preventable, preparedness planning, training, testing and exercising our security plans can prevent and deter many situations and mitigate and lessen the impact of unavoidable events. We encourage you to review the timely and important slides below; and take the time to review and refresh your crisis response plan.
Due to the overwhelming participation of the January 3rd, 2013 webinar, SCN and experts from Margolis & Healy hosted a second webinar on January 10th, 2013 where school safety and security information was covered with over 500 participants from around the country. The complete presentation and accompanying audio recording of the call can be downloaded through the link below or from the column on the right side of this page.
Tragic school shootings in which multiple students or faculty have been killed or injured in a single event, as well as terrorist threats to homeland security, have heightened the real need for crisis and emergency preparedness planning. As demonstrated by the most recent event in Newtown, Connecticut and past tragedies in Ohio, Delaware, and Virginia, tragedy can strike any school in any location and remind us that although these incidents are isolated events, our nation's schools remain vulnerable and susceptible to violent attacks.
In almost every setting, the school is still one of the safest places for children. Crisis and traumatic violence are still by far the exception rather than the rule. Though statistically the chances of a true crisis affecting any given school remain virtually insignificant, unfortunately we have to balance that with the 21st century awareness that one could happen here. Critical incidents over recent years have popped up more often and have brought increasing tragedy.
Now more than ever Jewish school administrations must consider in their long-range safety planning for the possibility of violence and focus on areas such as target hardening for school facilities, visitor access to the school, building evacuation, lockdown and interior and exterior site factors, and threat-specific responses.
The Secure Community Network previously hosted a Special Commentary Teleconference on these subjects featuring subject matter experts in the field. A downloadable file of this call can be accessed by clicking here. For additional information on safety planning, the United States Department of Education has released a document entitled "Phases of School Safety Planning." This presentation provides schools with steps to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from a crisis or emergency within their school.
Another excellent resource for school anti-terrorism guidelines by the United States Department of Education is the document entitled "Practical Information on Crisis Planning: A Guide for Schools and Communities." This comprehensive, all-inclusive manual provides schools, districts and communities with the critical concepts and components of good crisis planning as well as examples of best practices.
Effective preventative strategies, well-designed emergency plans and consistent post event measures may help schools recover quickly and return to being safe and stable learning environment. The effectiveness of a school safety plan is measured in the lives of children, faculty and administrators that are left unharmed in the event of an incident of school-based violence, an accident, a natural disaster or other hazard.