Are you ready for 2015–2016?
It’s hard to believe that school is almost back in session. The state of Illinois and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) are presenting several notes for the annual Back to School Preparedness campaign, in preparation for the 2015–2016 school year. We’ve expanded IEAM’s recommendations and included a few things we think could be helpful to you and your family as we inch closer to start date.
Brushing up on resources
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides great info regarding backpack safety, bullying and even homework study tips, as does Edutopia and Scholastic. Experts advise on best practices, ranging from bus protocol to proper fall attire, to keep things relatively sane before school season. Take the time to browse the web for other bits of useful information when you have a spare moment.
Discussing social media responsibilities and appropriate content
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — they’ve all got their positives and negatives. The negatives, though, can be downright destructive. As it becomes more prevalent these days, have constructive discussions about good content and how/when it’s appropriate to use social media in a school setting, particularly if your young man/woman is a teenager.
Ensuring your current emergency contact information is on file at your child’s school
People move, change jobs, and get new cell phone numbers. Keep up so the school has all the necessary information if and when the time comes. Consider having multiple contacts on file, and make sure to pre-authorize a friend or relative to pick up your children in an emergency.
Knowing your child’s school or day care emergency protocol/plan
Schools often choose multiple meeting points, depending on the emergency. Teachers may declare a local restaurant, a spacious parking garage, or nearby a park as designated checkpoints. Knowing those spots beforehand will put your mind at ease.
Marking your calendars
Your school likely compiles family events, parent teacher conferences and additional information for its academic calendar. Making habit of inputting the important dates on your digital calendar, or keeping a school calendar in a prominent spot for weekly check-ins will help you prioritize your schedule.
Reinforcing bus safety
Crossing at a crosswalk, looking both ways before crossing—these are the moments to talk about traffic safety tips and the dangers of large vehicles. That includes school buses. Buses are designed with safety in mind, but they’re also big with limited visibility. It’s a good idea to reinforce the facts.
Teaching children with cell phones about ‘Text First, Talk Later”
Short, simple text messages, such as “R U OK?” and “I’m OK,” are more likely to get through than a phone call if phone service is disrupted following an emergency. It may not seem like much, but it could make all the difference in a bad situation.
Updating allergy medications and medical records
Prescription medications and emergency meds simply can’t be overlooked. Account for new staff changes and anyone who may not know about your child’s recent peanut allergy, for example. If possible, schedule an appointment with the school’s nursing staff so everyone is on the same page. Provide the staff with a mini stockpile of emergency medications.