Districts are facing an immediate crisis that needs a long-term solution. Students in grades K-12 are experiencing skyrocketing levels of depression and suicide. We are increasingly bombarded with news about school violence and deadly shootings. Many at-risk students are not getting the learning environment and support they need for successful academic and life outcomes.
The statistics are staggering:
- As of June 1, 2023, there have been 23 school shootings at K-12 schools this year that resulted in injuries or deaths
- For middle and high school age youth (ages 12-18), suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death, and the suicide rate among children 5 to 11 has risen on average 15 percent a year from 2013 to 2020. A 2021 survey showed 52 percent of children aged 10-17 didn’t receive clinical services after presenting high distress symptoms.
District-Level Leadership Drives Student Wellness
As district leaders, superintendents play a critical role in wellness policy, implementation, and evaluation. When looking for ways to improve student wellness and safety, decision-making is often at the district level rather than administration at individual schools. Unfortunately, most districts are stretched to the limit of hiring, retaining, and supporting teachers, counseling and psychological support, and wellness curriculum experts.
One way to address these challenges is to identify efficient, highly usable, comprehensive solutions that support educators and staff, promote wellness, and immediately respond to life-threatening situations.
Here are 6 Criteria for Choosing Wellness and Safety Solutions
1. Districts are Unique and Need Unique Solutions Schools - There’s no simple, all-in-one answer for boosting student wellness from grades K-12. The schools in each district may have shared commonalities, such as goals, policies, strategies, requirements, and challenges. At the same time, schools may differ in many ways, such as student populations, family cultures, rates of at-risk students, and the resources that are available locally. Needs also differ between elementary, middle school, and high school.
A solution must be configurable to meet each district's specific needs. If a solution can be further individualized for each school, it will provide even greater effectiveness and impact.2. Always Look for a Collaborative, Trustworthy Partner - Trust is a primary factor when districts choose a solution to gain resources and support for K-12 students and their families. Wellness and safety are complex issues. You have the most expertise when it comes to your district. You should be confident that your partner is equally an expert in how the technology solution can meet your goals. However, expertise is only part of your decision.
Transparency and collaboration are also important aspects of trust. As a district expert, your partner should work closely with your team, actively seek input, and keep you fully involved in the decision-making process. Your partner should be open and responsive about what the solution provides, how you will implement it, ongoing usage, and the support they will provide.
In other words, districts want a partner that will have their back.
3. Communication is Central to Any Wellness or Safety Program - Everyone plays a part in student wellness and safety—and effective communication promotes any wellness or safety initiative.
Teachers rely on parents to encourage K-12 students to succeed, and parents need teachers and schools to support children with social, emotional, behavioral, and learning issues. Communication is paramount. Schools need to reach out to community supports to fill the gap in school resources, and community resources need to meet their goals to help the community. Again, communication is key. Districts need the full support of law enforcement and all safety professionals, and law enforcement needs to communicate in potentially dangerous situations. Again, communication is essential.
Solutions that help districts, parents, and students to communicate clearly will significantly improve any safety or wellness initiatives.
4. Maximize Value with Comprehensive Support - While mobile apps and other technologies aren’t a panacea for student wellness and safety, they can play a valuable role in district-wide solutions. But what good is any solution if you can get the technical support you need throughout the process, from onboarding and implementation through ongoing management? When purchasing a solution, you hope for a smooth process at all stages. However, with any new solution, there are inevitably questions about usage, procedures, and potential refinement.
The way to maximize the value of any district-wide solution is to have comprehensive support for all administrators. The best solutions will offer periodic training, data reporting, regular check-ins, and other ways to ensure your success.
5. Pinpoint Student Success and Empowerment - Building student success throughout the district is the ultimate goal of a safety and wellness solution. Superintendents have a lot on their plates, so it’s not always easy to put student wellness at the top of their to-do list. At the same time, when superintendents and boards make wellness programs and initiatives a top priority, they lead the way to improved student success. Solutions that enable a coordinated district-wide approach to support its priorities empower all students to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.
Above all, effective solutions are student-centric and designed according to proven methods. Depending on your wellness priorities, student success may require solutions that help schools create a safe physical environment, encourage parent and student engagement, train teachers in wellness curriculum and classroom management, increase access to community and school resources, or some combination of these objectives.
6. Meet Long-Term Wellness Goals - District leaders are concerned with reaching long-term goals for their K-12 schools, not just getting immediate results. All superintendents face hurdles to wellness initiatives. Whether programs focus on reducing bullying, building parent engagement, or suicide prevention, there is no one-and-done solution—programs must be part of a long-term planning process and align with evolving needs.
Meeting shifting goals requires finding a solutions partner committed to building a lasting relationship with your district, supporting your evolving needs, and continuously improving their solutions to meet the changing education landscape.
Choosing Your District-First Wellness and Safety Solution
Superintendents are a focal point in addressing the ever-growing priority of improving student wellness. Technology-centered solutions can strengthen your wellness initiatives and academic goals if you select a partner you can trust to be collaborative, provide excellent support, and build a long-term relationship focused on student success—at all touchpoints.
STOPit Solutions provide a K-12 district-first approach to wellness and safety. We are with you for the long haul, delivering configurable solutions that foster collaboration and prioritize student experience. With comprehensive, first-rate are invested in your long-term success and a brighter future for your district and its students.