Rhode Island Safety Plan Designed to Make Schools More Secure

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee unveiled the state’s Model School Safety Plan developed in the wake of school incidents and in response to legislative mandates.

Signed into law in July 2013, the Model Plan requires school districts to work with local police and fire departments to conduct a school safety assessment and create an emergency plan. The 300-page strategic blueprint was developed in collaboration with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), Rhode Island Department of Public Safety, Rhode Island State Police and the Division of the State Fire Marshal.

“Prior to this initiative, school safety teams comprised of educators, administrators, police, fire and emergency responders met regularly to review school crisis plans, to include identifying operational and structural vulnerabilities in our schools,” said Elwood Johnson Jr., president of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association. “However, the creation and introduction of the Model School Safety Plan has undoubtedly improved the planning process by adding specific criteria and requesting crucial data elements that provide for more detailed emergency planning, which establishes uniformity statewide and further enhances the safety of children and adults in our schools. This document helped to expand our planning concepts and facilitated more detailed discussion by our safety teams.”

The key documents in the new resource include an emergency planning guide; and two FEMA publications on how to develop high-quality emergency operations for K-12 and higher educational institutions.

As a requirement, school committees must update safety and emergency plans and procedures on an annually. Schools must present a safety assessment to the general assembly and governor by Dec. 31 of each year.