ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — New York State hosted the first of its kind, School Safety Summit. Over 900 school administrators and staff attended the two-day event in Albany. Education experts say school safety comes in many different ways. Whether it’s feeling safe physically, being able to discuss issues such as bullying or simply feeling included, safety is key.
“And helping school leaders understand that safety is not just the absence of threat or harm or violence, but rather the existence of systems and structures that support mutual care and belonging and interconnection,” said Christina Pate, Senior Associate at West EdW. Pate echoed what many education leaders had to say at the summit – school safety requires different approaches.
“We really want to make sure that our student and faculty, meaning teacher, principles, superintendents, really have a plan in place, and that plan has to be well known to the students and to the members of that school,” said Betty Rosa, State Education Commissioner. Rosa said those plans must be inclusive, reflecting the needs of all students, including those with special needs and English language learners. Furthermore, the event focused on the significance of having student voices be a part of safety measures. “Student voices, student involvement, … and student participation is essential,” said the Commissioner.
And when it comes to school lockdowns in cases of emergencies, Rosa said there has to be a clear understanding of those plans if they ever do have to be used, “And what needs to be done in different types of circumstances, and of course, lockdowns, drills, all of these issues are very much a part of developing a plan.” The state received federal aid to host the summit, but are hoping it’s an annual event.