Promoting Positive School Climate
Off to a great start, is the theme we are promoting for school staff and students throughout Ohio. Promoting a positive school climate is just one way staff, students and families can be off to a great start this school year. Every district should also develop a definition of positive school climate that reflects their community’s values and priorities. A positive school climate is the product of a school’s attention to fostering trust & safety; promoting a supportive academic, disciplinary, and physical environment; and encouraging and maintaining respectful, and caring relationships throughout the school. Feeling safe and supported at school is a basic and fundamental need for success for staff and students. It is well known that when school administrators do not focus on safety, trust and support, then students and staff, do not feel safe at school, and it undermines learning, teaching, and school safety.
Bullying behavior undermines a student’s sense of security and distracts from their ability to be successful in school. October is Bullying Prevention Month, prepare to be off to a great start by promoting positive school climate and bullying-prevention practices this school year. Positive school climate and bullying-prevention practices promote healthy relationships, school safety, increased school attendance, and greater academic achievement. Comprehensive school climate plans offer a shared vision about what kind of school you want your school to be and strategies for supporting school, home, and community partnerships that prevent a cycle of violence.
To ensure we are off to a great start the following are positive school climate strategies from the National School Climate Center that administrators and school personnel can implement to promote a positive school climate and prevent risk behaviors this school year.
Have a common vision and plan for promoting a positive school climate
Provide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports programs (PBIS)
Model and nurture attitudes and behaviors that promote connectedness and school safety.
Insure every student’s connection with at least one caring adult in school.
Utilize your district’s Anti-Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Policy.
Ohio Campaign for Hope: Free Training
The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addition Services in partnership with the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation are hosting Ohio Campaign for Hope: Enable the conversations that make a difference. Through this partnership, the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation provides the Ohio PK12 Suite of Services. This Suite of Services offers Kognito simulations featuring virtual humans that provide an exciting new opportunity for effectively delivering behavior change outcomes. Kognito role-play simulations, a new form of Professional Development, integrates the science of learning, the art of conversation, and the power of gaming technology to teach conversational style that improves social, emotional, and physical health.
The Ohio PK12 Suite of Services includes five Simulations for youth serving adults working in elementary, middle and high school environments.
To date, Kognito simulations have been completed by over 300,000 educators nationally. Specific to Ohio, we have already reached over 7,800 education professionals. Now, through federal funding, the Ohio PK12 Suite of Services and Kognito products are AVAILABLE AT NO COST to all schools and organizations in Ohio.
Visit the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation at http://www.ohiospf.org/content.php?pageurl=ocfh for the Ohio Campaign for Hope – Kognito Program Offerings. Be a Champion complete the simulation and engage stakeholders to also participate in Ohio’s Campaign for Hope.
Who can help?
Anyone can share the word about this new resource. School personnel, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, social workers, treatment providers and media outlets are especially encouraged to promote access to the text line and access the toolkit.
For more information please visit https://www.oacbha.org/crisis_text_line.php
Parental Notification Requirement Deadline Approaches
As your staff and students return to school this year, remember that Ohio law requires schools to notify parents of how they will be notified of hazardous weather or an emergency effecting the school. Schools must proactively inform parents of how they will receive emergency notifications – simply posting notification information on a website will not meet this requirement. Prior to the first day of school, remember to specify how parents and guardians can sign up for alerts, the method through which alerts will be distributed (such as emails, texts, social media posts, etc.), and how to recognize alerts if the communication system is used for other messages.
Remember to Update You School Emergency Contact Information
With the new school year it is also important to take stock of any new staff and update emergency contact information in your school emergency plans. Before or during an emergency, this information will dictate who is contacted by first responders and other stakeholders. Instructions for updating emergency contact information (and other documents) in SAFE can be found here.
TSA Transportation Safety
Does your school or district use busses? The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offers many resources free of charge to transportation entities in Ohio to identify vulnerabilities and mitigate threats in a system. Once identified, the TSA process focuses on implementing fixes in a process and exercising improvements.
TSA’s process begins with a Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement, or BASE. This baseline of current capabilities is then used to shape training and grow procedures. For more information, click this link to view TSA’s statement on the BASE program. If you are interested in participating in BASE, contact your local TSA office at 614-479-2930; for more information, please click here.
New Emergency Management Test Information is Now Live
The Center for P-20 Safety and Security has been working to develop resources to assist schools in completing high-quality Emergency Management Tests (EMT). Emergency management tests are essential to identify gaps in emergency plans, and are an opportunity for office staff, teachers, administrators, maintenance, and first responders to work together in improving school safety. For example, a tabletop exercise can be helpful in assessing a school’s ability to respond to emergencies after hours without requiring a large amount of time or effort to set up. If your School Emergency Management Plan came into compliance in 2016 or earlier, then you are required to complete and report an EMT in 2017.
New additions to SaferSchools.Ohio.gov explain how to create beneficial emergency tests through identifying threats to test, incorporating various stakeholder perspectives, and documenting results to apply to existing emergency management plans. Tests can be easy to plan while still proving useful in discovering the limitations of emergency plans. SAFE now allows school administrators to annually document a test, building a roadmap for future plan improvements.
After your school or district has completed an emergency test, remember to log into the school safety plan web system in SAFE and document your findings. If you need assistance or have questions, please contact the Center for P-20 Safety and Security at 614-644-2641 or SaferSchools@dps.ohio.gov.
Over the summer Ohio’s Center for P-20 Safety and Security moved from the Ohio Department of Education to Ohio Homeland Security. While our Center may have physically moved, our mission objective of promoting school safety and positive learning environments has remained the same. The Center is still focused on assisting parents and students with bullying concerns, as well as assisting school administrators with developing a safe and secure school environment through effective planning, exercises/tests, and resources for prevention and appropriate response.
To reach specific staff, please see our updated contacts page on SaferSchools.Ohio.gov for updated phone and email addresses. Be aware we also have a new office email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.