It’s no secret that after school safety is a top concern for parents with school-age children, particularly with the overabundance of news stories on school shootings and violence, bullying, accidents, etc. In particular, the end-of-the-day dismissal period tends to involve less adult supervision, meaning students may be at a greater risk of harm. Schools, however, can — and should — be proactive in creating a safe after-school environment. If you do not already have a school dismissal plan in place or simply want to re-evaluate your current one, check out our six suggestions below to enhance your school’s safety during dismissal time.
We would be crazy if we didn’t mention our carpool tags. We have an entire page devoted to explaining what they are and how then work but the basic idea is the help organize your after school pick up lane. This helps school safety by reducing the amount of students walking around when parents are picking up their kids.
Collectively create a school dismissal policy
Planning is key when it comes to ensuring school safety, as is keeping an open ear to the suggestions of everyone involved in the process. Sit down with school administrators, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders to collectively put together a school dismissal plan (like this one) that will work best for all involved. Don’t forget to communicate the policy via email, mail, and your school website.
Educate parents, guardians, and students
A school dismissal policy is only effective if its intended audience understands it and agrees to follow it. In addition to having teachers discuss the dismissal procedures with students in the classroom, ask parents and guardians to read through the policy with their children at home, as well. Then, each person should sign an agreement to show their commitment to following the dismissal plan.
Practice, practice, practice
Some learn best by doing, so have your students practice leaving the classroom and going to their designated areas in a mock school dismissal. Do this several times, if necessary, particularly during the first weeks of school. Consider making it into contest, and reward the class that does the best job quietly and orderly leaving its classroom during the practice runs.
Designate a pickup zone
An important part of your school dismissal policy is where car riders should go to be picked up. Be sure to designate a pickup lane and loading zone, and clearly mark each with paint, cones, or other signage to help guide parents and guardians to the correct areas. For an added measure of safety, provide carpool tags to parents and guardians to help school staff confidently direct students to the correct vehicles.
Encourage alternate modes of transportation
Students have several options when leaving the school grounds. Students could walk, bike, ride in a car or even take a bus, when heading home. Encourage students — especially those who live nearby — to walk or bike in order to help reduce the congestion of cars in the pickup lane and loading zone. Instituting a health program at your school could be effective in getting more students interested in walking or biking to and from school.
Stagger bell times
When students are released from their classrooms all at the same time to go home, the rush is generally chaotic and stressful. Instead, try staggering bell times and dismissing them by grade level or classroom. Fewer students will congregate in the hallways, meaning they can safely make their way to their designated areas without getting jostled or even trampled by other excited students.
Share your ideas
Does your school have a dismissal plan that runs smoothly day in and day out? Share in the comments below about what makes your plan work so well. We’d love to hear your ideas and celebrate your successes with you!