School safety is more than practicing drills

Students in the Knox County Public Schools practiced what to do in the event of an emergency during School Safety Week September 19-23.  The week consisted of fire, tornado and earthquake drills as well as evacuations and lockdowns.  Behind the scenes, school administrators were also working hard to ensure that the school system is a safe learning environment and a safe place to work.

“Safety week started on Monday with the district’s maintenance staff learning proper care and handling of equipment, including playground equipment,” said Frank Shelton, the district’s public relations director.

Jeremy Baird with KSBIT, the district’s insurance provider, conducted an annual safety training and review that consisted of:

  • Equipment care and usage
  • Use of proper safety procedures in the workplace
  • Prevention of slips, trips, and falls.

“Maintenance staff also visited the new Jesse D. Lay playground to learn how to identify possible equipment failures and proper maintenance of school playground facilities,” said Shelton.

The Knox County Public Schools have implemented a variety of programs and policies that are helping to create a safer environment.    

“We are working closely with our KSBIT safety trainers and our Safety and Loss Prevention Committees to promote safety awareness,” said Kim Merida, assistant superintendent.

Work and school related accidents have decreased significantly over the past two years as a result of better educating employees and increased inspections of the district’s buildings and grounds. 

“This is a direct result of the leadership role being taken by our school principals as well as our transportation and food service departments during quarterly meetings with all staff,” said Merida.

“These efforts are making a difference in helping to redirect funding to instructional needs for students and helping to keep Knox County Schools a safe place to work.”

School Safety Week also consisted of emergency plan updates for all schools in the district.

“Our annual review of emergency plans actually started the week prior to school safety week, with final modifications and updates being finished up at the end of safety week,” stated Shelton who oversees the emergency management planning process.

The district’s emergency management planning process includes the procedures for over 20 types of emergencies with detailed instructions on actions for employees to follow during and after the emergency.

“Our staff has worked hard to update the plans this year and is to be commended for their effort,” said Shelton.  “It is a team effort to ensure that our schools are safe and our staff is trained to handle any type of scenario should it occur.”

Rita Miracle representing the Knox County Health Department and Mike Mitchell, Knox County’s emergency management director, are active partners in the district’s annual school safety week.