NY United Teachers Task Force tackles school safety measures

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ALBANY, NY (WENY) – At an unprecedented time when concern for school safety is at an all-time high, the New York State United Teachers Task Force, Safe Schools for All, released a report with recommendations for educators, policymakers, and school districts.

Task force members emphasized that training entire school communities, in particular, is important. An entire school community includes school staff, educators, and children.

Within the 2021-2022 school year there were 193 incidents nationwide of gunfire on school grounds which is nearly four times the average since 2013, according to a recent report from Everytown for Gun Safety.

“If you don’t feel safe at school, you cannot learn. So, in order for us to do our jobs, students, and teachers all need to be in a safe environment,” said Laura Franz, Albany Public School Teachers Association President.

Members of the Safe Schools for All task force also emphasized that it is important to not simply plan for the worst day, but for every day. And for school districts across the state of New York, that means safety training and communicating with all the right people on the ground to create a culture of preparedness.

“Every time there’s a tragic event like Uvalde, or Parkland, or Sandy Hook, we call it a wake-up call for action,” said Andrew Pallotta, New York State United Teachers President. “But safe schools for all cannot be an idea that comes in waves.”

State legislators can look through the task force’s report and apply the recommendations to their district accordingly. The recommendations in the report include prioritizing funding to hire critical staff, strengthening gun safety regulations, issuing uniform school safety guidance, and including staff representatives on safety committees.

Pallotta added that districts across the state may look different in the application for some of these safety measures, as different districts may require different resources. He also highlighted that what’s most important for state policymakers to recognize is the idea and practice of collaboration on the issue of school safety.

“Bringing folks together, the families, school staff, the community leaders, to address school climate. Having legislators see that as important is one of the main goals of this,” he said.


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