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Education crisis communications – a greater duty of care

Headshot of Dennis Adonis

Dennis Adonis


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4 Oct 2018
2 min read
Outside of an emergency entrance of a hospital

How safety alerts help to protect the future

Having the responsibility of shaping the future for young children everywhere is a challenging enough journey for most educators, before the added burden of worrying about their safety.

Schools, universities, and other academic institutions face a greater duty of care than traditional workplace safety teams, carrying the responsibility for the welfare of young and potentially more vulnerable students. There's also a broader community stakeholder ecosystem to consider, including staff, parents, neighboring schools, and education departments.

Each of these groups will have its own safety needs too, each one unique, and equally urgent for accurate and timely information in the event of an emergency, whether that's a severe weather event, disease outbreak, technological breakdown, or unfortunately, violence.

In the United States, for example, there have been more than 200 school shootings since 2013, an average of nearly 1 every week.

Schools throughout Britain, the US, France, Japan, Holland, Norway, and Guam have also received similar threats, although no definitive links have been confirmed.

Education administrators are confronted with a wide variety of potential challenges, including:

  • Physical harm – shootings, assaults, theft, or bomb threats

  • Severe weather – storms, hurricanes, fires, floods, etc.

  • Health scares, such as the outbreak or transmission of communicable diseases

  • Asset damage – a large university campus may contain potentially billions of dollars of physical assets

  • Anti-social behavior, both physical and or digital, such as cyberbullying, drugs, or harassment

  • Commercial, professional or personal conflicts of interest between staff

That means organizations need a range of diverse, and complex digital crisis management plans to facilitate:

  • Quick and accurate safety messages right to mobile phones

  • Alerts for all stakeholders regarding new safety tips and safety training requirements

  • Surveys for staff, teachers, and parents to identify and collect a wide range of safety information

  • Wellness checks to ensure the personal safety of those involved in an emergency situation

  • Automated workflows that release to all team members regarding suspicious outdoor activity or incidents of serious injury, and the list goes on

However, all of this can be difficult to execute with traditional, manual methods. Additionally, the growth of social media has become a key factor, and ‘citizen journalism’ means negative news can spread fast, potentially inflaming and exacerbating already volatile situations, unless crisis response teams can stay ahead of the unfolding event.

Fortunately, modern communications technology can equip educators with highly sophisticated tools for monitoring and managing emergency situations, and keeping all stakeholders updated with real-time, 2-way information flows.

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