School Safety Challenges in 2021 1

School Safety Challenges in 2021

Top school safety and security concerns that existed prior to the pandemic, such as active shooters, crime, bullying, and cyberbullying, must now be balanced with newer COVID-19 health and safety challenges. These newer procedures, including social distancing, mask-wearing, and the need to plan and communicate health concerns to parents, may in fact remain in place for a long time. A recent survey of K-12 schools underscores the additional safety factors facing K-12 administrators, staff, students, and families. Key findings identify COVID-related safety measures as the top concern for the 2021-2022 school year (as well as in higher education). Administrators across K-12 districts report student mental health as their second-largest concern.

Clearly, balancing pandemic safety precautions with the more traditional security and behavioral needs will challenge school districts during the next school year. Despite the prioritization of COVID-19 precautions over the past year, school security mandates remain in place. Several states now require threat assessments in K-12 schools. Pennsylvania now requires safety and security assessments to measure preparedness. These requirements remain in place even though many schools are operating remotely or in a hybrid configuration. In future posts, I will examine each of the reported top safety concerns for K-12.