Alert Solutions Blog

School Safety Bans You’ll Have to Read to Believe

Posted by Tara Gibson on Mon, Feb 25, 2019 @ 10:02 AM

K-12 schools and districts across the country do everything they can to keep students, teachers, and administrators safe. With the frightening rise of violence in schools over the past few years, it’s no surprise that school safety is a key topic for educators.

Parents and students should both be aware of what you can and cannot bring onto school property. Depending on the area you live in, these are subject to change. Some of the most common school safety bans include: 

  • Guns & Weapons
    This school safety ban speaks for itself. No school wants any potentially harmful weapons brought onto school campuses, as they can cause injury or death to students, faculty, and others in the vicinity of the school.
    Drug Free School Zone
  • Drugs & Alcohol
    Drugs and alcohol are illegal substances that are never allowed on school premises.

  • Bullying & Cyberbullying
    Bullying in any form is always a school safety concern. Bullying and cyberbullying can have detrimental effects on a student’s well-being and is a commonly battled issue in many K-12 school districts.

  • Gang Affiliation & Violence
    Another common school safety ban is the affiliation to any gangs in the area. Gang affiliation often relates to violence, which is always prohibited in schools.

Communicating these school safety bans is easy to do with an effective school notification system. Sharing a list of the banned items along with a brief explanation to parents keeps them informed and engaged with their child’s education. A commonly discussed topic covered by Alert Solutions is the importance of parental involvement, as it is shown to improve student performance, student behavior, and reduce bullying incidents.

Most schools have effective bans in place related to school safety, but others have some interesting school bans that raise some questions, and certainly some eyebrows.

6 Interesting School Safety Bans

  • Bottled Water
    Some of you may remember the flipping water bottles craze that swept the nation back in 2016. Many students were flipping water bottles throughout classes which resulted in bottle flipping bans, and at least 2 schools completely banned plastic water bottles as they caused so many distractions.

  • The Dictionary
    Yes, believe it or not, the dictionary was banned. This happened in a school in California when a parent complained the book contains references to inappropriate behaviors. According to Business Insider, “the ban didn't last long — days later, teachers and administrators voted to bring the dictionaries back into the classrooms. As a compromise, they sent students home with permission slips so objecting parents could opt for their students to use to a different dictionary.”

  • High Fives, Tag, Holding Hands and Hugs
    In some K-12 schools across the country, hugs were deemed an inappropriate form of touching and a bill was passed in Tennessee claiming hand-holding was a gateway to sexual activity, which caused school wide bans of both. Tag and high fives were also considered to be dangerous, which led to schools bans as well.

  • Yoga Pants
    Some schools consider yoga pants to be too revealing, and an apparent distraction, so they are steadily being banned from dress codes in many schools. School-aged girls are opting to wear yoga pants as the new comfortable replacement to sweatpants. According to TeachHub, “a school in Rockport, MA, sent home 20 female students when they showed up in the banned apparel.”

  • Red Ink
    This school ban applies more to teachers than students. Business Insider shares “the sight of red ink became so jarring that several schools in England banned teachers from using it in the 2000s. Many of them hoped that by forcing teachers to make their corrections in other colors, it would soften the stigma of making a mistake.” Red ink was considered to be de-motivating and have negative connotations.

  • Ugg Boots
    When cell-phones were widely banned in many schools, students would hide them inside their Ugg boots to sneak them into classes. This led to a Pennsylvania school banning Ugg boots on campus to prevent students from using them to secretly store their phone.

Although some of the above interesting school safety bans are slightly ridiculous, schools take the well being of their students very seriously.

At Alert Solutions, school safety is extremely important. We work with many schools that use our SwiftK12 school notification platform for school safety purposes. An emergency can happen at any time without warning, which is why having a reliable way to communicate is key. If there is a danger on school grounds, administrators are able to alert parents, students, and faculty quickly with ease using their preferred communication method.

For more school safety tips, download our guide below.

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Topics: school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education, emergency preparedness, emergency response

Addressing School Safety Threats: 4 Things Your K-12 School Can Do

Posted by Philip Young on Tue, Jan 22, 2019 @ 08:01 AM

As educators, your main concern is the well-being and safety of your students.

There has been a shocking rise in school shootings over the past few years, with 2018 being the deadliest year so far. BBC News reports that in 2018 a startling 113 people have been killed or injured in school shootings in the United States.  BBC also states, “with many parts of the US having about 180 school days per year, it means, on average, a shooting once every eight school days.” With the well-known Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting killing 17, and the Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas killing 10, the number of deaths among students is notably higher on average for 2018.

School Safety Surveillance

School safety concerns like cybersecurity threats have also been on the rise. Unfortunately, the networks supporting K-12 school districts are typically not the strongest. According to Barkly, “schools are particularly susceptible to malware attacks for a number of reasons. For one, schools haven’t historically had to make cybersecurity a high priority, and they don’t always have a great deal of experience in fending off attacks.”

Budget constraints and easy Wi-Fi accessibility also leave hackers an easy entrance into school district networks. EdScoop states that since 2016, more than 350 incidents have occurred. At least one of those incidents resulted in threats of violence against children in several K-12 school districts.

Although it is extremely difficult to predict when and how a school safety threat will present itself, there are things that schools can do to help address these risks.

4 School Safety Tips for K-12 Schools

  1. Implement a Reliable School Notification System
    When disaster strikes, you have to be able to notify your school community quickly. Implementing a school notification system backed by a secure network is a great way to ensure teachers, parents, students, and administrators can be contacted immediately in the event of a school safety threat such as an active shooter or cyber breach. Our SwiftK12 notification system enables administrators to reliably reach hundreds or even thousands of student families within minutes.
  1. Monitor Social Media
    According to EdScoop, many districts are opting to monitor student behavior through social media. This software alerts educators when students write certain words, essentially painting a picture of the student’s well-being. This is helpful for incidents on and off campus. EdScoop provides the following example; “if students express the desire to harm themselves, these individuals can be contacted by trained staff who know the appropriate way to intervene.” Although this tool is helpful, and social media is often viewed by the public, schools are encouraged to use discretion.
  1. Cyber Security Updates
    As mentioned above, school districts are often targeted by hackers because they tend to have weaker networks. There are things school administrators can do to prevent this from happening. Consider the following school safety cybersecurity tips from EdScoop:
    1. Educate staff, parents, and students on the dangers of cybersecurity threats
    2. Implement strong password policies
    3. Always make sure school software is up-to-date
    4. Stay current on trends in cybersecurity

  2. On-Campus Surveillance
    Surveillance technology on school campuses gives administrators the ability to look out for suspicious behaviors and efficiently react to dangerous situations. According to Gizmodo, “schools are spending millions to outfit their campuses with some of the most advanced surveillance technology available.” With school safety being the priority, many schools are pushing to install cameras in hallways and other technologies like anonymous tip software to prevent dangerous incidents from occurring.

With impending threats on the rise for K-12 schools across the United States, preparedness is key. That’s why it’s so important to implement and share some kind of school safety plan with your school community, using the above tips as a guide.

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Topics: school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, emergency preparedness, emergency response, emergency management

Year in Review: Alert Solutions’ Most Read Education Blog Posts of 2017

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 @ 14:12 PM

From launching our new SwiftK12 school notification system and receiving all three integration badges from PowerSchool to partnering with eChalk to offer customers content management for school websites, 2017 was another HUGE year for Alert Solutions’ education division.

Our education specialists were also hard at work providing k-12 school administrators with all the hot topics on our blog. Here are the most viewed education blog posts of 2017:  

1. 3 Everyday Strategies to Help Schools Improve Student Attendance Rates
Attendance is essential to academic success, but all too often, parents and students don’t realize how absences can add up to academic trouble. This blog post shared 3 everyday strategies k-12 schools an implement to improve student attendance.

2. K-12 Schools Turn to Digital Communication Tools to Meet ESSA Parent parentteacher1.jpgEngagement Mandate
In order to receive parent engagement funding, ESSA mandates that k-12 school districts conduct outreach to ‘all parents and family members’. Advocates of improving parent engagement say technology like school notification systems could help k-12 schools meet the law’s requirement.

3. Making the Most of Back-to-School Communication – 3 Tips for Your K-12 School
As students arrive for a new school year, k12 school administrators need to have a school communication strategy ready to go. To alleviate some of the back-to-school stress you may be experiencing, we’ve compiled 3 tips, including encouraging teacher-parent communication.

4. Improving School Safety – 4 Components of a Successful Emergency Preparedness Plan
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 828,000 students each year are victims of non-fatal victimization while on school property. This statistic is startling and demonstrates the importance of taking school safety seriously. To help, we’ve compiled 4 components of a successful emergency preparedness or school safety plan: form a team, define and share your school safety plan, improve student relationships, and implement a school notification system.

What was your favorite education blog post from 2017? Share your thoughts with us!

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Topics: attendance, school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement, truancy, parent communication, emergency preparedness

4 School Safety Tips to Help Avoid Active Shooter Situations in K-12 Schools

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Nov 28, 2017 @ 10:11 AM

In the past 250 years there have been an estimated 370 school shootings in this country – causing the United States to have a higher rate of school shootings than any other country.

According to recent research conducted by John Jay College, roughly 85% of these school shooters had a history of being bullied by classmates. These are some startling statistics.

K-12 schools should have a school safety plan for these types of violent incidents and take a proactive approach in active shooter situations.

By following a few of the school safety tips shared below, k-12 schools can be better prepared and help keep teachers, students and staff member safe.emergencypreparedness-resized-600.png

1. Implement a ‘Zero Tolerance’ Policy for Weapons, Alcohol and Illegal Drugs
Research is torn on this approach, but k-12 schools that use ‘restorative justice’ instead of school suspensions are seeing positive results with students.

2. Include an Active Shooter Response Procedure to Your Schools’ Emergency Preparedness Plan
School emergency preparedness plans should address procedures related to active shooter response including lockdowns, evacuations, parent-student reunification, and sending emergency alerts to parents, the media and the school community.

3. Practice Your School’s Safety Plan with Local Emergency Responders
Train school administrators, teachers, and support staff on school violence prevention, school safety and school threat assessment. Emergency responders are strongly encouraged to practice the rapid response to active shooter techniques as well.  Schools should make their schools and school buses available after-hours and on weekends so public safety officials can practice responding to active shooter situations in these settings.

4. Have a Way to Communicate with Parents and Emergency Responders
School administrators know that an emergency situation could occur at any time. No matter what the instance is, it is imperative to ensure your emergency alerts are being sent to student families and staff quickly and reliably. It’s vital for school safety. School notification systems help streamline parent communication across multiple channels: voice, email, SMS text, and social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. 

What is your school doing to avoid active shooter situations? Share your thoughts on our blog!

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Topics: school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, emergency preparedness, emergency response, emergency management

Improving School Safety - 4 Components of a Successful Emergency Preparedness Plan

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Aug 08, 2017 @ 16:08 PM

K-12 schools across North America are faced with growing and ongoing threats, including school violencedrugs, bullying, and natural disasters.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 828,000 students each year are victims of non-fatal victimization while on school property. This statistic is startling and demonstrates the importance of taking school safety seriously.

The real question is - is your k-12 school prepared? To help, we’ve compiled 4 components of a successful emergency preparedness or school safety plan:safetyinschool.jpg

1. Form a Team
In an emergency, you need to respond quickly. Ensure that every school administrator, parent, teacher and staff member on your team knows what their role is in the event of an emergency.

2. Define and Share Your School Safety Plan
Create an emergency preparedness plan that clearly states what behaviors are acceptable or not acceptable at your school. Train your school’s staff on the school safety plan, and promote that plan to parents.

3. Improve Student Relationships
The best way to prevent bullying, violence, drugs and more is to get students involved. When students feel invisible, they will go to any limit to get attention – good or bad. When your students feel that they’re playing an active role in school safety, they will response positively. For example, click here to read about a new strategy using peer mediation to prevent school bullying.

4. Implement a School Notification System
Critical situations like a school lockdown, student health emergency or unexpected school closure can happen at any time. Having a seamless way to communicate with parents, students and staff members during these events can become vital…and sometimes lifesaving. School notification systems help streamline communication across multiple channels: voice, email, SMS text, and social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. 

Back-to-school doesn't need to mean back-to-worrying. Implement these 4 tips and start improving school safety today!

Download Alert Solutions'  Emergency Preparedness Guide

Topics: school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education, emergency preparedness, emergency response

Education Resource Center – Popular Strategies, Best Practice Tips and More

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Apr 04, 2017 @ 16:04 PM

The dedicated education experts at Alert Solutions and SwiftReach are always focused on expanding our Education Resource Center.

These education resources are intended to provide K-12 school administrators with industry research, popular strategies and best practice tips on a variety of topics, including:resources.jpg

Here are some of our most popular education resources:

Improving Parent Engagement – Tips and Tricks
Learn how you can develop an effective parent engagement strategy at your school that will directly impact student academic success.

Creating an Effective Emergency Response Plan
This best practice guide contains tips for creating or optimizing an emergency preparedness plan for your k-12 school.

Streamlining Report Card Distribution
This guide provides K-12 schools with a way to overcome the obstacles of traditional report card distribution while saving precious budget dollars and staff time.

Download your favorite today!

Education Resources Click Here

Topics: bullying, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement, truancy, emergency preparedness

5 Tenant Safety Tips for Property Managers this Winter Season

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 @ 12:01 PM

Winter weather can be very unpredictable for property managers, especially those located in colder climates.  Now that the season is upon us, keeping tenants safe should be a top priority.

We’ve listed five action items your property management team can take to improve tenant safety this winter.snowremovalproperty.png

1. Prepare snow removal and other equipment so that it’s ready to go before the next storm hits.  If snow removal services are contracted to someone else, make sure there is a clean-up agreement so tenants don’t get stranded.

2. Maintain the buildings and the surrounding property.  There may be loose branches and clogged gutters that could endanger tenants and visitors or lead to costly repairs down the road.

3. Identify residential tenants who may have difficulty getting around during the winter months, such as the elderly.  This information will be vital in the event of an emergency situation or evacuation.

4. Provide instructions to tenants about what they can do to keep themselves safe.  Examples could be closing storm windows, securing outdoor furniture or setting thermostats to proper temperatures so pipes don’t burst.

 5. Update tenant contact information and review your tenant communication plan.  This should include strategies for keeping in touch before, during and after inclement weather.  Remember that effective tenant communication leads to better tenant satisfaction.

Concerned about your tenant communication strategies?  Alert Solutions has the answers! Click here to download our Property Management brochure to see how we can help.

Alert Solutions' Resident Reach Download the Brochure!

Topics: property management, tenant communication, tenant safety, emergency preparedness

It’s Hurricane Season – Are You and Your Tenants Prepared?

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 @ 10:09 AM

Hurricane season, from June 1st to November 30th, is defined as the period of time when 97% of Atlantic tropical activity occurs.

Even though we’re well into that time frame, it’s not too late for property managers and their tenants to prepare in case a strong storm is forecasted.

Some measures property managers can consider are:

Double-Check Buildings and Groundshurricane.png
With the potential for strong, gusty winds, tropical storms and hurricanes pose a risk to property managers.  Reduce the chance of damage from flying objects and secure trash cans, outdoor furniture and weak tree branches, to name a few examples.

Share Evacuation Plan
If an evacuation is ordered, tenants and staff need to know exactly how to get to higher ground.  Share these details with your community in advance so that everyone knows what to do in the event of a storm. This will help improve tenant safety.

Establish a Tenant Communication Plan
Tenant communication will be essential leading up to and during inclement weather.  How will you deliver updates and notifications during an emergency?  How will tenants be reached?  These are things to think about for your tenant communication plan.

Additionally, here are more tips from Property Management Insider that property managers can share directly with their tenants:

  • Prepare an Emergency Kit
  • Know the Evacuation Plan
  • Secure Valuables

For even more hurricane preparedness tips for property managers, check out this previous blog post.

Ready To Go Digital? Click here to learn more.

Topics: property management, tenant communication, tenant safety, emergency preparedness

K-12 Schools Are Facing New Security Concerns – 5 Tips to Improve School Safety

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 @ 12:09 PM

Did you know there have been 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre? That’s 74 school shootings in just 4 years!

Here are some other statistics from a 2015 survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control:

  • 8% reported being in a physical fight on school property in the 12 months before the survey.
  • 5% reported being bullied electronically during the 12 months before the survey.
  • 2% reported being bullied on school property.
  • 1% reported carrying a weapon on school property on one or more days in the 30 days before the survey.

In less than a generation, k-12 schools have entered a complex world of new security concerns. The focus has switched from routine fire drills to creating school lockdown procedures to prevent unwanted intruders.

So how can k-12 school administrators best protect students and staff, when their expertise is curriculum, not security? While this may be a starting point, here are a few school safety tips:

1. Zero-Tolerance
Have a zero-tolerance policy for the presence of weapons, alcohol and illegal drugs.

2. Strict Attendance
Deny students permission to leave school for any non-school related activities during the school day.

3. ID Systemclearbackpack.jpg
Create a positive identification system requiring ID badges for administrators, teachers, students and visitors.

4. Dress Code
Enforce a dress code policy banning any form of gang-related clothing or require students wear clear backpacks.

5. Sharing System
Create a system between your school and law enforcement for sharing information about at-risk youth.

What are you doing at your school to promote school safety? Share your thoughts on our blog!

Download Alert Solutions'  Emergency Preparedness Guide

Topics: bullying, school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, emergency preparedness, emergency response

5 Highly-Effective Uses for Automated Voice Broadcasting

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Sep 15, 2016 @ 11:09 AM

Automated voice broadcasting allows organizations to send out information to their audiences in a time-sensitive and efficient manner.  Calls are delivered consistently and results can be tracked so it’s easy to see who receives each message.

Often times, we’re asked about the best applications for voice broadcasting.  Today we’ll discuss those options.

Emergency Alerts – Voice broadcasting has the speed and scalability to reach hundreds and thousands of recipients in a matter of minutes. That’s why many rely on it for urgent updates to landlines and mobile phones.

  • Best for:  Organizations of all Shapes and Sizes
Appointment Reminders – In one study, call recipients were 40% more likely to make an
originally scheduled appointment after receiving an automated voice call reminder.

Closures and Delay Notices – Whether there’s inclement weather or a water main break, voice broadcasting calls let everyone know about cancellations or delays before they leave the house.

Lead Generation – The voice channel is ideal for businesses looking to generate inbound sales activity instead of solely outbound.

  • Best for: B2C and B2B Organizations

Customer Surveys or Outreach – Voice broadcasts can be sent to prompt customers to fill out a survey or complete some other call-to-action. A Hot Key transfer feature allows call recipients to be redirected to you through a press of a touch-tone phone.

  • Best for: B2C and B2B Organizations

Remember: Voice broadcasting is controlled by the FCC to protect individuals from receiving unwanted calls.  Check out our Voice Compliance Fact Sheet for more information.
Voice Broadcasting Tips Download Now

Topics: lead generation, audience targeting, voice broadcasting, voice broadcasting best practices, phone survey, emergency preparedness

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