Delaware public schools will now have more uniform safety plans to help them respond to emergencies in the classroom or on school grounds.
Governor Jack Markell signed Senate Bill 233 into law this morning in front of students at McKean High School. Also known as the Omnibus School Safety Act, the law requires the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security to coordinate with public schools, school districts and first responders to create safety plans for all schools.
“We’re really working hard to make the school experience as positive as it can be so you all can go as far as your potential will take you, but we know that you can only be successful in school if you’re in a place that’s safe.”
Markell told students that the quality of safety plans varies from school to school. “Schools across the state of Delaware have school safety plans, some of them are really good, and some of them are really bad. And that is the reality, and what I said at the time, is we have to do better.”
Markell says he called on Dept. of Safety and Homeland Security Secretary Lewis Schiliro to create model plans for the 25 schools that have School Resource Officers. Schiliro says, “Today, we begin the process of bringing all 219 public schools in our state operating under one common safety protocol, making Delaware the first state in the country to do so.”
Markell says the safety plans go beyond just “checking off boxes”, but need to be comprehensive and individualized to each school. The OSSA requires schools and districts to create a school safety team to develop a safety plan. Schools must also work with local first responders and conduct one critical incident exercise per year, and a more informal “tabletop” simulation exercise once every two years.
“We can’t control everything unfortunately in this modern day, but there are steps that we can take and that’s what this is all about,” Markell said.