As technology improves, so do solutions to keep students and teachers safe in school buildings and on school networks. This is the main reason why school safety, including cybersecurity and physical safety, retains its place as a top concern for education leaders.

Balancing access to educational resources with security needs remains a top challenge for school district IT leaders, according to new findings from the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning.

Seventy-one percent of district administrators and IT leaders are concerned about the security of their network against malicious attacks or misbehavior, as outlined in the data, which comes from a collaboration between the nonprofit Project Tomorrow and cloud security provider iboss.

Districts turn to technology to keep buildings, and the people in them, safe and secure. Tools that monitor social media for threats, anonymous reporting systems, and databases to track and identify potentially preventable patterns among shootings are growing in popularity as educators recognize the importance of technology in preventing school violence.

Here, we’ve collected some school safety developments and resources to keep you abreast of the latest advancements and changes.

1. The Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) released the fourth edition of its Safety and Security Guidelines for K-12 Schools, which gives school administrators, school boards and public safety and security professionals guidelines for implementing a layered and tiered approach to securing and enhancing the safety of school environments.

The PASS Guidelines identify and classify best practices for securing K-12 facilities in response to urgent needs for information identified by the education community. The guidelines describe approaches within five physical layers for school facilities: district-wide, the property perimeter, the parking lot perimeter, the building perimeter and the classroom/interior perimeter. Within each layer, the resource outlines key safety and security components, such as policies and procedures, people (roles and training), architectural components, communication, access control, video surveillance and detection and alarms.

2. Cybersecurity is a growing area of interest for school districts as they try to keep student information safe and protect their networks. To help districts detect threats from within, Impero Software created a new keyword library specific to hacking and cybercrime.

The Hacking and Cybercrime Keyword Library contains lists of key words and phrases that have been linked to cybercrime and security breaches. The new library is part of the company’s flagship product, Impero Education Pro, which provides online monitoring, classroom management and administrative tools for schools.

When a school installs the new Hacking and Cybercrime Keyword Library, designated school personnel are alerted if anyone on the school network searches for those keywords, or types certain URLs or phrases that could indicate they are trying to hack into the school’s network. For example, the software detects if someone tries to access the dark web, searches for programs, tools or how-to tutorials related to hacking, or visits specific web sites or forums known to be associated with cybercrime.

3. Blackboard’s new Blackboard SafetyList is a crisis management response platform that helps school district leaders coordinate the internal teams responsible for preparing for and managing safety and security incidents. Powered by Groupdolists, Blackboard SafetyList turns paper plans into action plans, rapidly mobilizes internal response teams, tracks tasks in real-time, reduces fragmented communications, and records all activity in a real-time audit trail, all to assist school districts with their efforts to ensure that school responders are tightly coordinated, in-sync and accountable.

The tool includes a library of more than 45 pre-built crisis response checklists to help coordinate team efforts in an emergency. It also provides a tap to join conference bridge for keeping open lines of communication across an entire campus crisis response team, as well as incident logging for simple, accurate post-incident analysis.

4. Bark, the award-winning service that helps keep children safe online and in real life, is proud to announce its all-new Family Alerts Dashboard. Schools using Bark will now have the option of enlisting the support of parents and guardians to monitor school-issued accounts.

Through the Family Alert Dashboard, schools can now choose to alert parents and guardians any time Bark detects concerning activity on their child’s school email or device. Bark uses advanced machine learning to identify issues, then notifies parents and school administrators of potential threats like cyberbullying, internet predators, depression, suicidal thoughts, and sexting.

5. School safety platform reThinkIt! is launching nationwide through its partnership with Sunburst Digital. OneSeventeen Media’s reThinkIt! solution leverages machine learning and trauma-informed, restorative, and social emotional principles to revolutionize classroom behavior management.

Backed by seven years of evidence-based research, reThinkIt! has a positive impact on schools, including a statistically significant reduction in students’ emotional distress. It provides in-depth, actionable information that enables schools to deescalate damaging behaviors. reThinkit! helped one Texas school avert a potential shooting through real-time insights about a troubled student–a nod to research demonstrating students shared five times more through the application than face-to-face with adults.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura