CDC Finds Many US Schools Poorly Prepared For Flu and Infectious Disease Outbreaks (August 12, 2018)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as a result of surveying school districts across the country, has determined that many of those school districts are not adequately prepared to respond to natural disasters, especially an influenza pandemic or other type of infectious disease outbreak. In fact, more than 20 percent of US school districts still need to develop plans for responding to natural disasters and only 65 percent have policies for responding to an influenza pandemic or other infectious disease outbreak.

Further, nearly 75 percent of US school districts have plans in place to reunite students with their families during an emergency and nearly 80 percent are prepared to help students and staff with special needs during an emergency and to provide mental health services afterward.


Wolf Selects PCCD Head to Lead New School Safety and Security Committee (July 26, 2018)

Governor Tom Wolf has chosen Charles Ramsey, the Chairman of the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, to assume leadership of the newly formed state School Safety and Security Committee, which is tasked to identify ways to help protect teachers and students in the school environment. It will also distribute $60 million in grants to school districts and other school entities which can help fund such things as security equipment, staff training, and facility improvements. The committee will also set standards for assessing the safety and security of school buildings, staff training, and help for students with behavioral health needs. It will also develop and conduct a survey to measure safety and security readiness.

AASA Releases Crisis Toolkit (July 25, 2018)

On July 12th, the AASA, The School Superintendents Association, released a toolkit for proactive best practices before, during, and after a crisis. It is titled “School Safety & Crisis Planning” and  includes a 24-hour hotline managed by Joseph Erardi, former superintendent of Newtown Public Schools. Resources were also contributed by the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National School Boards Association, and the National School Public Relations Association.

As part of the toolkit, CrisisGo, an AASA School Solutions partner, is offering an emergency planning and communications platform to AASA members at no cost. The “AASA Safe Classroom” app allows school safety leaders to send audible emergency alerts and enable two-way communications to every computer and mobile device in the school.

Governor Signs 2018-19 Budget Ahead of June 30 Deadline (June 25, 2018)

On Friday, June 22nd, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a $32.7 billion budget package for 2018-19, over a week ahead of the June 30th due date. The budget contains no broad-based tax or fee increases, but it increases spending by $700 million, or 2 percent, mainly for schools, pensions, human services, and prisons. $70 million is provided for school safety funding, with $7.5 million being earmarked for community anti-violence efforts. $800 million is included in the budget for Medicaid.

PA School Safety Task Force Issues Findings (June 27, 2018)

On Tuesday, June 26, 2018, the Wolf administration issued its findings from six regional school safety task force field hearings held since February. The task force included participants such as teachers, school nurses, school administrators, parent-teacher associations, and students. Hundreds of comments were also submitted online.
Through seeking information as to how the state can help handle mass shootings and threats, improve school building safety, and meet the physical and mental health needs of students, it was determined that students need to be taught social and emotional learning strategies early in school and need better access to mental health services. It was also determined that schools need more nurses, social workers, and psychologists. Schools and students also need better connection to the community, its organizations, and law enforcement.
In addition, school officials asked for an increase in state funding for safety purposes, more guidance on the most effective school safety strategies, additional training for staff on how to deal with active shooters, and training regarding how to best address the social and emotional needs of students.

A more complete report is expected at the end of the summer.