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Westchester School Safety: New Requirements and Guidelines to Keep County Schools Safe

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The multi-faceted initiative includes guidelines on building security, communication, and drills, laid out in SAVE’s detailed “School Safety Plans Guidance” publication. Among the requirements: Each school must have a safety task force that meets at least quarterly to review and update procedures; there should be security protocols established for preventing and dealing with incidents on buildings, grounds, buses, and fieldtrips; plans are required for handling lockdowns, evacuations, and for sheltering students off campus if necessary, as well as for coping with the aftermath of an incident, including medical and mental-health needs. 

With close to 50 school districts in the County, there’s no one-size-fits-all security solution. Districts can decide if they want—or can afford—metal detectors or school resource officers or other precautions. But some standard security checkpoints apply across the board, which schools, though not mandated to, are encouraged to implement. Just a few examples: All doors and windows should be numbered inside and out, with labels distinct enough to be read from the street by first responders who need to pinpoint the location of the emergency; unoccupied rooms should be kept locked, as should spaces with building equipment, wiring, and controls; landscaping around the school should consist of low, thorny bushes, to eliminate hiding places; and everyone in the school, from administrators to faculty to bus drivers to maintenance staff, should be up-to-date on security procedures. Staff members should also have training in violence prevention and intervention, procedure reviews and updates, and using security and communications devices.

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