School And Student Safety
Here are just a few of the many things we routinely do to keep our schools safe:
- All schools have emergency plans in place, train staff and hold monthly safety drills, practicing responses to different emergency situations.
- All schools have security cameras that cover the main entrance.
- All school visitors are required to sign in with the main office upon their arrival.
- School Resource Officers (Howard County Police Officers) are currently placed at all high schools and several middle schools. These officers also support elementary schools, as needed.
- All employees wear identification badges.
A key to keeping our schools safe is good communication. We constantly encourage community members, students and staff to report suspicious activity or any concerns to school administrators and/or teachers as soon as possible.
Our school system and our partners will continue to do everything we can to ensure that our children and staff are provided a safe, healthy, and supportive environment.
Enhanced school security features and practices
- Controlled Entry – School access is configured to direct visitor through the administrative office.
- 10 elementary schools that currently have open space configuration will be modified to create more secure classrooms.
- HCPSS conducted a review of school floor plans to identify safe zones in case of emergency.
- The Police Department has been given access to security cameras during emergencies.
- All schools have an automated visitor management system that verify identification and standardize badging in place.
- HCPSS security guidelines have been developed and implemented in all schools.
- School plans have been reviewed, updated and evaluated. HCPSS increased the number of exercises to be conducted, with an emphasis on practicing the various response actions used in emergency situations. County police officers attended lockdown exercises to observe and understand school procedures.
- Additional intruder and lockdown exercises have been implemented at all schools.
- Training for all staff on security protocols has been conducted, and is ongoing.
- Emergency supplies were provided to schools. Radios were upgraded or replaced.
- Planning with non-school users of school facilities (Columbia Association, Howard County Recreation and Parks) to coordinate emergency plans and actions.
- School vulnerability surveys were conducted to identify areas for improvement.
Implemented use of school bus cameras
- 212 school buses have camera systems on board.
- Each bus has four cameras – Two in the front of bus (one facing the steps); one in the middle of the bus; one in the rear of the bus.
Improved communication throughout school community
- Information on the HCPSS School Culture and Climate page includes bullying prevention – including resources and tips, and new reporting forms to include the Sprigeo app – as well as on PBIS, Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, and the work of the Anti-Bullying Task Force.
- The HCPSS Transportation page includes information on school bus cameras, including a video of an interview with Transportation Director David Ramsay and a Frequently Asked Questions document.
- Information from Stand Up HoCo is shared on the HCPSS Facebook page.
- Links to HCPSS resources are shared on HCPSS Facebook page and Twitter account.
- StandUpHoCo was launched on October 25, 2013. An on-line and web-based reporting system for incidents of bullying StandUpHoCo is a collaborative effort among Howard County educational, recreational and community-based partners.
- The Gallup Survey was administered to all HCPSS students and staff starting in Fall 2013. View results.
- The Student Services Advisory Committee (SSAC) continues to meet four times a year for collaboration among HCPSS and Howard County community agencies (e.g., Grassroots, NAMI, Domestic Violence Center/Hope Works, Office of Children Services) on a variety of health and mental health topics.
- The Mental Health Task Force is currently working on the following:
- Reviewing available professional development trainings, such as Kognito, Mental Health First Aid, UMD Center for School Mental Health Training Modules for Educators and School-Based Staff.
- Designing a brochure/information sheet that describes the benefits of communication between school staff and outside providers.
Viral Social Media Rumors About Violence in Schools
We encourage children to be responsible citizens, and this includes conduct on social media. We ask parents and guardians to continue to emphasize the importance of not spreading rumors and notifying adults of any inappropriate social media they receive.
If you receive any information that needs to be communicated to the police, please contact the Howard County police immediately at 410-313-2911.
Additional Resources For Talking To Your Children and Students About Safety and Trauma
- Tips for Talking to Children and Youth After Traumatic Events (A Guide for Parents and Educators)
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers – English
- Managing Strong Emotional Reactions to Traumatic Events: Tips for Parents and Teachers
- Identifying Severely Traumatized Children: Tips for Parents and Teachers
- Resources for Dealing with Traumatic Events in Schools (This list of resources was developed by The Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine for dealing with traumatic events in schools. This resource list includes links to numerous websites on a variety of topics.)