Mar 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Schools face pressure to ramp up safety protocols

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Parents are pressuring their communities for better preparedness, resources and action plans to keep their children safe in schools.

Why it matters: Deadly school shootings in the U.S. have been on the rise, garnering national attention on what schools could be doing better to help students emotionally and physically.

Between the lines: To help prevent violence, most districts are focused on protecting students who are suicidal and helping students deal with conflict.

"It’s really the connection that the students have with the people in the school that really make a difference when you look at prevention."
— John Kelly, school psychologist and past-president of the National Association of School Psychologists.

The big picture: Most of the 250 bills introduced across the U.S. address physical measures like metal detectors or law enforcement officers. Some state and local legislatures are working with school districts on what works for students in their communities, including addressing students' emotional and mental health needs.

What they're doing:

  • Texas has been funneling more money into schools for safety measures. Its Frisco school district purchased bullet proof glass, lockdown technology and mental health teams, the Dallas Morning News reports.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order in February putting in place several administrative steps targeting school safety, such as requiring a state review of all school district discipline diversion programs, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
  • The Trump administration worked with families affected by the Parkland, Florida school shooting and launched schoolsafety.gov aiming to give schools a "one-stop shop" for K-12 security, mental health resources and school violence prevention and recovery.

The bottom line: Parents ranked school safety the top priority over several academic opportunities like AP testing and tutoring, the Dallas Morning News polled in December.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

America's startling school nurse and counselor shortage

Reproduced from the ACLU using U.S. Department of Education data; Cartogram: Axios Visuals

An overwhelming majority of schools in the U.S. lack nurses and counselors to help students in need, per a 2019 ACLU report from Education Department data on every school district.

Why it matters: Children are reporting just as much stress as adults, with one in three reporting that they are feeling depressed.

Go deeperArrowMar 4, 2020 - Health

Schools turn to ride-hailing services to transport students

Jalen Walker heads to football practice using service HopSkipDrive with driver Jacqueline Bouknight in Springfield, Virginia last April. Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

When startups set out to become the “Uber for kids” several years ago, they predicted parents would use them to ferry children to and from school and activities — but they’ve since found a much bigger customer: schools.

The big picture: Companies like HopSkipDrive and Zum are getting much of their business from schools using their services to replace or supplement the traditional school buses, especially for students with special needs or for trips outside of existing routes.

Virus-driven shift to online classes brings home the digital divide

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

K-12 schools weighing a shift to online learning in the shadow of the coronavirus are grappling with what to do about kids who don't have internet at home.

Why it matters: The "digital divide" between internet access haves and have-nots has long been an abstract public-policy debating point, but this public health crisis is bringing the issue home in a concrete way.