Right before the Holidays the Pennsylvania legislature enacted several noteworthy changes to Chapter 10 of the PA School Code specifically related to school safety. Here are two highlights.
1. Section 1517 clarifies that schools must conduct "thoroughly familiarize" teachers with the use of fire equipment appliances (pg. 37, line 1-3). An appliance is actually a fire extinguisher (as defined on page 36, line 22-24). This is something new for schools as little time is spent in instructing educators on the use of a fire extinguisher. Not only are schools required to instruct in the use of fire extinguishers it also requires that the fire extinguishers are to be used in the course of the drill (pg. 37, line 3-4). Now I don't think anyone is expecting schools to torch a trash can every month but a good practice would be to take an extinguisher outside with you and quiz a teacher or two on the basic function of the extinguisher.
2. The second change is also in secdtion 1517. This relates to conducting a school security drill. There are several specific requirements however on page 37, line 11 is a big word. That word is MAY. Which appears to be OPTIONAL until PDE offers some clarification. So if you decide to conduct a school security drill (code word for lockdown, violent intruder or active shooter drill) here are a few requirements
a. The drill must be conducted within 90 days of the start of a new school year (pg. 37, line 8-11)
b. Students MAY be present (does not require) as stated on page 37, line 15-16
c. Students and school employees (note not just educators but school employees which appears to be a reference to ALL employees of the school. This is a common oversight with schools. Often support staff members are not part of the violent intruder type training (page 37, line 18-21)
d. The school SHALL notify and request assistance from local law enforcement and emergency management (page 37, line 22-24)
e. The school SHALL notify parents/guardians prior to the drill (page 37, line 25-28)
f. The District Superintendent or Chief Administrator are required to make sure all of this happens and complies with the laws. (page 37 lines 29- pg. 38 lines 1-2)
Linked to this blog is a copy of the applicable pages of the law updates 12202017 and a link to IU13's fire extinguisher training video https://youtu.be/c-SAf0cXvUs which was launched last year and available FREE on our Youtube channel.
Happy Holidays. John