Safety/Security Plans for New School Year in High Gear


Safety and Security preparations for the 2010/11 academic year are in high gear with metal detectors being distributed to high schools, and School Resource Officers (SROs) being dispatched to further support the schools.
Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education (MOE), Grace McLean told a Think Tank session at the Jamaica Information Service Wednesday (August 25) that the Ministry was now rolling out its safety and security policy in all All-Age and Junior High schools.
“We have already distributed metal detectors [two each] to all our high schools and we are now procuring additional metal detectors for our All-Age and Junior High schools. Additional School Resource Officers (SROs) are being trained and are now being dispatched across the island. We have SROs that work with clusters of schools to provide support just to ensure that the whole business of safety and security that we have to maintain in our schools, [is taken care of],” she said.
According to the Chief Education Officer, several sessions aimed at addressing safety and security concerns were completed during the last few weeks.
“We have had at least four sessions with various levels of stakeholders in the system, within the last few weeks. This was sponsored by the USAID, so we have had a session with our Deans of Discipline, Guidance Counsellors, Principals as well as general community stakeholders”, she pointed out, while noting that the sessions addressed a variety of topics.
“These sessions were designed to ensure that we train our stakeholders as to the kinds of techniques that are used for investigations, how do we use this method of detection to know when there will be a potential problem student, what are the signs of a student who is behaving in a suspicious manner, how do we treat with this kind of suspicion, at what level do we get in touch with the police and at what level do we seek external support for these students, so we have been doing quite a bit of that to ensure that persons are sensitized about the little tricks and techniques that our young people are now using within the school under the guise of misbehaviour”, Mrs. McLean informed.
She further noted that the metal detectors are expected to be used daily when the students enter the compound and, if there are detections, they will be dealt with accordingly and appropriately. In the meantime, Mrs. McLean is appealing to all stakeholders to be on alert for all students.
“We are encouraging our parents, school administrators to be on alert for our students. We want to ensure that they are not only safe on the school compound, but also when they are on their way to school, as well as when they are returning home so we are calling on the communities to play an active role in the education of all our children and assist us in ensuring that they are safe”, she pleaded.
Mrs. McLean explained that the Programme for Alternative Student Support (PASS) has been revamped.
“[The PASS] pulls out those students who it is deemed to be creating additional problems or creating challenges within the schools and for us to treat with them in a very structured manner. On this programme we have assigned clinicians, psychiatrists to pull these children out of school, work with them specifically in a controlled environment to see if they can be rehabilitated and be placed back into the normal school system”, she noted.
“We are also in the process of finalizing plans for our timeout educational facility, which is going to be located in Malvern, St. Elizabeth, where we will be placing students who are so far gone that they need to be taken out of the system entirely for rehabilitation. We expect that this facility will be up and running towards the end of January and hence we will have a very structured programme to treat with those students who need this kind of support”, Mrs. McLean stated.
The PASS project in Jamaica is designed to address the needs of secondary level students with chronic behavioural problems that can affect their education.

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