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Safety at school is a top priority in our Houston area public school districts. Houston’s public school administrators and school boards address the question, “Are students safe in schools?” through school safety programs and regulations. These efforts protect students and staff from accidents, violence, injuries, cybercrimes, and weather emergencies. Parents can rest assured that our school districts implement protocols and provide training to keep students and staff in a safe learning environment.
Over a million Texas public school students depend on bus services to get them safely to and from the more than 9,000 schools every day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, students are nearly 70 times more likely to arrive safely at school on a bus rather than traveling by car. One reason is the fact that school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road. School buses are designed to be safer than other vehicles by being highly visible with bright yellow paint, flashing red lights, and stop sign arms. They are built with protective seating that absorbs impact in addition to being extremely heavy machinery with rollover protection. Students are also protected from other drivers with laws that make passing school buses illegal during drop off and pick up.
The Texas Department of Public Safety’s School
Bus Transportation Program is responsible for curating the knowledge and skills that are required in order to provide safe, reliable, and efficient transportation for students. This program oversees the School Bus Driver Certification & Recertification Course to maintain school bus drivers’ ongoing education to transport students safely. The department also provides technical assistance to the twenty educational regional service centers.
Read the Texas Administrative Code on school bus safety standards to learn more.
Houston public schools regularly educate students and staff on safety during athletic practices and special events. Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL) is committed to the safety and health of student-athletes. UIL resources cover a wide range of safety issues including illness, medical procedures, avoiding injuries, training, and the use of automated external defibrillators and bleeding control stations can be found on their website. School districts must also follow their Emergency Action Planning Guide for after-school practices and events.
Schools can face emergencies, and public school districts take preventive actions to provide a safe space for students. Texas Education Code (TEC §37.108) requires every Texas school district to have an Emergency Operations Plan in place that addresses prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. The Texas Legislature also mandates that public school districts conduct safety and security audits of their campuses every three years, and they must appoint a committee on school safety that meets once a semester to evaluate the district’s emergency plan.
TEA’s weather and disaster information page details resources for schools with students affected by disaster and health emergencies.
The safety of San Antonio public school buildings and the security of premises are a high priority among our school districts. School buildings may restrict access during school hours by locking and monitoring entry doors to the building as well as individual classrooms. Visitors are identified using a valid ID, monitored during their visit, and documented as they enter and exit the premises.
The Texas School Safety Center details school safety and secure processing of visitors and guests.
Some school leaders are turning toward restorative justice to help prevent on-campus violence. The aim of restorative justice is to prevent conflict by addressing the issues before it escalates into violence or bullying. (Texas Tribune article)
The TEA Mental and Behavioral Health page states that “outside of the student’s home, schools are the most likely place where mental health concerns will be detected, and the earlier mental health concerns are detected and addressed, the more likely a student is to avoid the onset and/or progression of mental illness.”
Texas public school districts provide a number of valuable free services to assess, promote, and improve students’ emotional, social, and mental health. These necessary services include individual and group assessments, referrals, and interventions. Certified public school counselors and psychologists contribute to the mental well-being of students and the overall health of the whole school environment.
School Guidance and Counseling is implemented by professional school counselors to raise attendance, improve academic performance, reduce dropout rates, and escalate the number of students to enroll in postsecondary education.
Students have the right to be educated in a safe school environment, and preventing school violence requires the efforts of teachers, administrators, community members, parents, and students. Anti-bullying awareness and action in our Houston public schools improve school safety and the learning environment as a whole.
Texas’ David’s Law addresses harassment, bullying, and cyberbullying of public school students. The law encourages mental health programs for students, criminal penalties, and civil remedies. This bullying checklist is used by public schools to appropriately define bullying.
Some school leaders are turning toward restorative justice to help prevent on-campus violence. Houston’s North East ISD Ed White Middle School was the first in Texas to pilot restorative justice which eventually led to higher attendance rates and less bullying. The school allows 35 minutes twice a week for students to meet with teachers and administrators to discuss feelings and problems in order to build trusting and respectful relationships on campus. The aim of restorative justice is to prevent conflict by addressing the issues before it escalates into violence or bullying. (Texas Tribune article)
Houston area families have many questions regarding COVID-19 safety and precautions. As our school districts deal with the implications of COVID-19, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) addresses current issues and Frequently Asked Questions for schools, students, and parents.
Safety in Texas schools, including the Houston area, remains top priority for district administrators and staff. Many schools require all employees to become familiar with current safety protocols by offering ongoing safety courses. The Texas Department of Public Safety offers active shooter courses for all educators and school staff. Texas School Safety Training platforms like SafeSchools provide school employees essential knowledge to be prepared and protect our students.
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