Ohio Homeland Security’s Center for P-20 Safety and Security (the Center) was initially formed as a collaborative effort between the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Ohio Department of Education, to create safe and supportive learning environments and respond to violence and its causes in educational settings throughout Ohio. In 2016, the Center transitioned to Ohio Homeland Security. The Center focuses on school climate, safety, security and emergency management concerns in K-12 and higher education environments, by providing guidance and direction to promote physically safe and emotionally secure environments for students, educators, and staff.
The mission of the Center is to provide guidance to Ohio schools in order to enhance their strategies for safety, security, and emergency plan development in accordance with the School Climate Guidelines, School Safety/Emergency Operations Plan Template and Ohio Law.
The Center’s goal is providing support to schools in their effort to ensure the safety of their students, employees, and visitors through effective policies and procedures, training, and community and interagency involvement. There are four main components to this goal:
- Prevention/Mitigation: Schools can take action to increase the safety and well-being of their staff and students. To create a safe and supportive learning environment, schools may institute policies, positive behavior intervention supports, and prevention programs to improve the culture and climate of their building.
- Preparedness: School leaders should be equipped with all of the vital resources, information, and expectations to create a comprehensive safety plan and response protocols for any emergency situation, including natural disasters, violent incidents, and terrorist acts – before, during, and after the event.
- Response: Assisting schools with the development of their all-hazards response plan is a key element of the Center’s goal. Safety and well-being in an emergency depends on how prepared students and staff are and how everyone responds to a crisis. By being able to act responsibly and safely, school administrators will be able to protect students, staff and facilities. The Center strives towards ensuring updates on school safety regulations, directives, policy, and deadlines will be communicated on a regular basis so schools can revise and implement the most current criterion and respond accordingly.
- Recovery: The primary objective of recovery is to provide a caring and supportive school environment so that staff and students can return to teaching and learning as quickly as possible. Creating a system of supports with community social service agencies and local first responders can reinforce the cycle of safety planning and restore the social, emotional and environmental needs of students and staff.