More than 1.7 million children are heading back to public and private schools across the state this month, and safety will be high in the agenda.
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) says safety considerations should be in play not only in the classroom, but on the way to and from school, and in the home after school.
Under state law, all public schools in Georgia are required to have safety plans that address any possible natural or man-made disasters that might affect them. GEMA has developed a planning guide for school administrators to help them to create their plans.
"We can’t emphasize enough the importance of school safety," says GEMA Director Charley English. "And our concern extends well beyond the classroom to the school bus and even to the computer at home."
During Fiscal Year 2007, GEMA’s School Safety Unit provided training on a range of school safety-related issues to 29,693 individuals through 327 classes. This represents a 135 percent increase in training initiatives over a two-year period. Nearly half of the people who took the GEMA classes were trained on Internet safety issues.
Some GEMA safety tips:
Students should tell an adult - a school official, resource officer or parent - if they hear about a weapon at school.
Children who are bullied also should tell an adult - a school official, resource officer or parent.
Parents should ask school officials if they have a safety plan in place, and how it is exercised.
Children should pay close attention when their school conducts fire drills or tornado drills.
Parents should know what to do if there is an emergency at their child’s school. They should not go to the school but, instead, listen to TV and radio reports for instructions on reunification.
Students, staff, parents or visitors to a school should report any kind of suspicious activity.
On the School Bus
Parents should do a practice walk to and from the bus stop with young children before the school year begins.
Make sure that children don’t use shortcuts or isolated routes on their way to and from the bus stop.
Children should know which neighbors they are allowed to visit and which houses they can go to for safety.
Parents should be cautious about putting their child’s name on the outside of clothing or other items.
Children should be taught to say "no" to anyone who tries to touch them or treat them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
At Home After School
Children should never open the door to a stranger when there are no adults at home.
Children should never tell someone over the phone that they are alone, or give out any personal information.
On returning home, children should check to see that there is nothing suspicious before going inside. Once inside, they should lock the door and contact parents to let them know they are home.
Parents should discuss proper Internet use and safety.
Children should never meet Internet contacts without parents’ knowledge and approval.
Children should let their parents know if they receive an inappropriate e-mail.
Parents should check the history of their child’s computer use.
GEMA is the lead state agency for coordination of emergency and disaster response activities. For more information on GEMA, visit www.gema.state.ga.us.
For more information on specific risks in your area and how to prepare, contact your local emergency management agency.
- from GEMA