To ensure Wisconsin schools remain safe environments for learning, the Department of Public Instruction announced a new framework Monday to improve school safety.
The framework calls for action in four areas of of school safety: mental health, climate and culture, physical environment and school administrative policies and procedures, according to a statement from DPI.
“We know that mental health issues, bullying, substance abuse and other risky behaviors impair schooling for too many of our kids,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said in the statement. “This work provides guidance for improving the school environment so all students can graduate college and career ready.”
The category of mental health will take the top priority. Roughly one in five students suffers from mental health issues, but 80 percent of these students do not have access to professional help.
The recommendations were developed with input offered by emergency service providers, first responders and organizations including the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Wisconsin Education Association Council and Wisconsin School Safety Coordinators Association at last July’s Wisconsin School Safety Summit.
Other objectives include combatting bullying, developing visitor management and controlled access to schools and further developing school safety policies.
School safety policies are reviewed every three years. Recommendations from the recent summit suggested increasing uniformity among policies across the state and the creation of a statewide safety center and local crisis response teams, the statement said.
“In a crisis, training takes over,” Evers said. “Our schools conduct regular fire drills so staff and students know how to evacuate the building quickly. School safety training is equally important, though paying for facility upgrades and training strains school budgets.”