Safety in schools is at the forefront of many New Yorkers’ minds as students head back to the classroom.
On Tuesday, the New York State United Teachers Safe Schools for All Task Force released a report with recommendations for policymakers, school districts and educators.
What recommendations are included in the report?
The Safe Schools for All report was created using input from union members across the state, according to the NYSUT. The group met over the summer and shared their own experiences concerning violent episodes in schools.
In its report released on Tuesday, August 30, the Task Force emphasizes the need for proactive instead of reactive measures to address violence in schools.
The Task Force’s recommendations aim to “help address the increased social-emotional needs of those students engaged in disruptive behaviors and the broader overarching safety issues having an impact on schools, including gun violence,” said the organization.
A recent report from Everytown for Gun Safety found that the 2021-22 school year saw 193 incidents of gunfire on school grounds.
“These are the hard issues educators deal with day-in and day-out, but they do it because they are dedicated to helping their students thrive,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “Our students and staff deserve safe schools, and we’ll raise our voices until they have exactly that.”
Highlights of the report, according to NYSUT:
- Prioritize funding to hire critical staff, including dedicated student support specialists, and secure state-recommended staffing ratios for school counselors, psychologists, social workers and nurses. Addressing ongoing staff shortages in schools across the state goes hand-in-hand with bolstering school safety.
- Demand that the state issue updated, uniform school safety guidance to alleviate issues stemming from district-by-district — and even school-by-school — variations in procedures ranging from lockdowns to single points of entry.
- Strengthen federal gun safety regulations to eliminate access to high-capacity magazines, establish universal background checks, restrict gun purchases for those under 21 and establish national red flag laws.
- Implement at a district level proven behavioral support practices — such as therapeutic crisis intervention services and restorative practices — reduced class sizes and training for all staff, including school-related professionals, on both safety procedures and student intervention techniques.