Let's Talk about School Safety

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Sharonlee Trefry

Sharonlee Trefry is the State School Nurse Consultant for the Vermont Department of Health. She has worked with children and youth and the Vermont school systems for over 30 years; 18 of those years as a school nurse and health educator.

Children who feel unsafe at school spend less time learning and are more likely to try to get out of class to avoid uncomfortable situations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights the need for students to feel connected with people at their school. This means that students feel safe in schools with “open communication, trust, and caring among school staff, families, and community partners.”

School-wide safety plans ensure that students are protected from harm and feel safe every day. School nurses on the school safety team ensure that schools are ready to take care of lots of injured people quickly and effectively and children with special health needs will be taken care of during big emergencies. School nurses also tend to daily emotional needs of students. Feeling safe depends on feeling connected to someone who cares about students as individuals. Students who feel safe talking to a school nurse will be able to learn how to get better quicker and back to class. Families who feel safe talking to the school nurse will learn, for example, about how their doctor can help the family take care of asthma, learn about what to look for if their child is depressed, or how to deal with their middle schooler that is acting out.

The best thing that parents can do every day is to ask questions about who works at your child’s school. Parents who know the names of their child’s teachers and staff can learn which are favorite classes and who their child can turn to if they are feeling unsafe. Parents then learn who at school can answer questions about their child who is struggling, wants more challenging work, or what to do if their child is being bullied at school.

Keep your contact information up-to-date at your child’s school. If your child has life threatening allergies, asthma, seizures, diabetes, or special health needs be sure the school nurse knows what your child needs and how to reach you. Every parent wants to know when their child is ill or hurt or even having a fantastic day!  

Students and staff can make things safe more quickly during an emergency if everyone knows how to get help and find safety. A crisis plan that is practiced regularly reduces confusion. Students who have practiced these plans have been known to help staff or students new to the school. Students who know what to do can get to safety more quickly.

Page Last Updated on December 4, 2014