RISD raises safety awareness with 39,000 students with ‘I Know What To Do Day’

Lockdown drill inside a classroom at Hamilton Park PM

How can you ensure that everyone knows how to respond safely in a school district of more than 39,000 students? Just ask Richardson ISD.

Today, the district introduced “I Know What To Do Day” among its students and staff at all the 55 RISD campuses. The first-year program was implemented by the RISD Safety & Security Committee this spring. Its goal is to guarantee that students and staff in all grade levels are prepared to respond appropriately in any situation.

“As educators, we go to work every day knowing how important safety is,” said RISD Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone. “We think about it when we are teaching. We think about it when we are planning. We think about it in everything we do. But we can also take for granted that students and parents know just how much emphasis we place on safety. Today let us share that message with them.”

For years, RISD has operated with districtwide and school-specific emergency operations plans covering topics ranging from bus accidents to power outages. Training takes place throughout each school year on how to manage various situations, and drills take place on campuses.

Three of the common drills were revisited today — lockout, lockdown and shelter-in-place. Lockouts are called when a hazard or threat is identified outside the school. Lockdowns take place when a threat is in the building. Shelter-in-place is utilized when students are moved to a safe area in events such as a tornado.

“Each of those drills have already been conducted this year at our schools but we wanted to re-visit them with all students on the same day,” Stone added. “This allowed us to introduce a level of uniformity across the district, while also tailoring messages and encouraging questions & answers specific to each grade level.”

A variety of activities were offered to help students engage in the topic of school safety and best understand what to do in different situations. High school students also had an opportunity to write letters to local legislators to express thoughts and ideas related to school safety.

By the end of the day, more than 42,000 RISD students and staff took part in the activities. But Stone is quick to point out this is not a one-time initiative. Her plans are to make this an annual event at the beginning of each school year and see the awareness spread.

“This will grow,” she said. “We want safety to be a topic of conversation in homes throughout the district, and we want the tone to be one of encouragement and confidence. Today was simply another step in raising awareness.”