Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

Minnesota School Safety Center keeps our kids safe by preparing for the worst

Aug 20, 2022 06:20AM ● By Editor
Photo: MN DPS

From the Minnesota Department of Public Safety • August 19, 2022

If you're a parent of a school-age kid, chances are you've spent at least one sleepless night thinking about what happens if there's a violent intruder at school. But what about if there is a chemical spill, a flood or a tornado?

Now that we've given you a moment to contemplate the possible risks, take a deep breath. Minnesota School Safety Center (MnSSC) Director Randy Johnson and the team of school safety coordinators are working with educators across the state to mitigate, prepare, respond and recover if the worst should happen.

While the key to their work is prevention, members of the MnSSC also guide school administrators as they develop a plan for any emergency, from a violent intruder to a chemical spill.

“Taking care of Minnesota's children is a huge responsibility and it's one school leaders take seriously. Cooperation at both the community and state level is vital," said Johnson.

Each district has its own unique resources to marshal and hazards to mitigate, depending on the make-up of its student body, location and other variables. There are many layers to school safety, including first responder support, transportation, communication and relationships with the community.

“We say, 'If you've seen one school, you've seen one school,' because they are all different," said Johnson.

MnSSC staff begin by listening, assessing the needs of the district and the facilities within it. Some schools need to start from scratch, creating policies and procedures where there are none. Other schools have some procedures written down, but they need updating and expanding. In some cases, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the learning environments so much over the last two years that schools have begun to think completely differently about their safety and security measures. MnSSC staff are there to help as they walk through the school facilities to see how the district uses its spaces, both during and after school.

MnSSC works with school districts to prepare the basic building blocks of procedures that can be adapted to several different situations. Schools craft plans for lockdowns; what to do if there's a bus crash; and how to get students evacuated and safely reunited with their families. Then they assist in development of communications plans to make sure parents and the community receive the right information at the right time.

The most amazing thing about MnSSC training is what schools do with it, according to Johnson. They do the hard work of following through, building relationships with stakeholders to make sure there is collaboration at every level.

To see the original post and read more on the MN DPS blog, follow this link to the website.