Student supervision is one of the most fundamental and important aspects of school safety for K12 schools. Many school safety problems result from situations where students are not being properly supervised which is why student supervision is frequently a key issue in school safety litigation.
Proper and well-documented staff development relating to student supervision, as well as thoughtfully written policies, should be one of the most important aspects of any school safety program. The bad news is that these are overlooked all too often, and we can see this when we evaluate many of the preventable school safety incidents that occur each year.
Effective student supervision concepts are especially important in certain situations, such as during emergency evacuations, lockdowns and sheltering. Failures in this area have resulted in multiple deaths in at least one incident and have caused significant problems in a number of other situations. Another situation where student supervision is very important involves student field trips and special events like pep rallies, athletic events, graduation ceremonies and other situations that require adaptations of concepts designed to improve student supervision and accountability.
Focusing on ways to improve student supervision is one of the most cost-effective and reliable ways to reduce the risk of serious injury and death to students and to staff. Whether the threat involves bullying, tornadoes or acts of terrorism, improving approaches to student supervision reduces the risk that students and staff will experience harm.
During a visit to the Mayan Ruins at Uxmal in Yucatan, Mexico last week, Michael Dorn observed this group of students on a field trip who were not being properly supervised. This lax supervision could quickly result in an injury or death at a site where numerous hazards are present, and children can easily fall 20 to 300 feet if they are not extremely careful in navigating the ruins. In a region where police officers typically patrol with a fully automatic weapon or tactical shotgun in their hands, risks from violence are also a factor as they would be in many parts of the United States, Canada, the U.K. Israel and other countries where school violence has been problematic.