Five Tips to PREPaRE for the School Year
By Benjamin Fernandez, MS Ed, Chair, School Safety and Crisis Response Committee
As summer is winding down and we are gearing up for the new school year, it is easy to forget that in the middle of preparing for the return of students that we also must be ready to address the crisis needs of our schools and school communities. However, this is the perfect time to think about and jumpstart your crisis intervention services for the year. For some staff, they have the whole summer, while others have the few weeks before students and staff return to school. Both have opportunities to focus on the services, needs, and approaches that will support the unique needs of their schools and their school districts.
Here are five tips to PREPaRE for the new school year:
- Your Crisis Team—Do you have to make changes to team membership? Are there new team members? Are there members who need a break? What are your approaches to team building?
- Data Review—What does your “Examine” data from the previous year say? What kind of changes need to be made to your crisis intervention program? Conduct a needs assessment.
- Documents and Response Materials—Do you need to update policies, procedures, and guidelines? Do you need to update your crisis team operations plan? Your incident action plan (IAP)? Training materials? Do you have the most up to date PREPaRE training materials—check the PREPaRE Trainers page?
- Training—Conduct an annual refresh of key PREPaRE concepts such as triage and tiered interventions for your crisis teams. Review district policies and procedures such as suicide prevention, threat assessment, and crisis intervention.
- Collaboration—Reach out and maintain your relationships with stakeholders at the district and building levels, as well as community partners such as the medical community, mental health providers, law enforcement, fire and rescue, and cultural/faith based liaisons. What kind of information do you want to communicate?
Setting the tone early in the school year and preparing for the school year early can help with efficiency and effectiveness of your services. It is a lot of work, but utilizing your safety and crisis teams to support these efforts can help. Also, it is an appropriate time to establish a schedule of examination of services and updates to continue to improve your crisis services and team effectiveness.
“Supporting the prevention and crisis intervention needs of the school community.”
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