ASSE Urges Schools to Develop Emergency Plans

To increase the safety of the millions of students and teachers now returning to school, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recommends that all schools develop effective policies, plans and procedures to respond to emergencies and possible acts of future violence.

Researchers who completed a recent study on school emergency preparedness funded by the ASSE Foundation (ASSEF) recommend that each school system develop customized guidelines that can be incorporated into a comprehensive plan "that best serves its distinctive needs." They suggested schools work with local authorities and submit current scale diagrams of their facilities to local first-responder authorities such as the police and fire departments. They also recommended schools conduct drills to prepare students and faculty for such a crisis; hold bi-annual assemblies to discuss conflict resolution and how to identify violent behavior; and improve school security by installing magnetic metal detectors and setting up other ways to keep a closed campus.

The ASSEF study of some West Virginia junior and high schools on violence preparedness found that the schools participating in the study lacked effective policies, plans and procedures to respond to acts of school violence and terrorism. As a result of the study, those schools are now developing and implementing programs to address the issue.

The full findings of the "How to Cope with Terrorism/Violence in the Schools" survey are available on the ASSE Web site at www.asse.org under "Foundation."

Dr. Daniel E. Della-Giustina, CHCM, professor of safety and environmental management at West Virginia University, led the project, which was comprised of 25 questions designed to assess whether schools have procedures in place to deal with acts of terrorism and violence and to assess how these school districts developed and approved activities designed to prevent or reduce violence committed on school property.

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