Back to school safety

August is back-to-school month for most of us. Parents have their hands full preparing for a new school year, but so do faculty and staff.

To make your transition back to school with students easier, you can refer to this checklist to make sure you and your classroom are prepared.

  • Check ramps, walkways and walking surfaces for trip, slip and fall hazards.
  • Post your classroom evacuation plan so that it is clear, visible and easy to read.
  • Secure televisions/monitors with a tightened, secured strap. Check tightness frequently.
  • Surge protectors should not be used as extension cords where two or more are in succession.
  • Store cleaning supplies and other hazardous materials in custodial areas and not in the classroom.
  • Make sure a public phone, limited to 9-1-1 calls only, is available in the event of an emergency.
  • Have the police/sheriff’s department routinely patrol the parking areas.
  • Make sure adequate lighting is available.
  • Remove extension cords used to power anything in the classroom on a daily basis.
  • Surge protectors should not be used to power appliances such as refrigerators, coffee makers or microwaves.
  • If you have sprinklers in your classroom or storage areas, items need to be stored at least 18 inches below all sprinkler heads.
  • If you don’t have sprinklers, make sure to have at least 24 inches of clearance between storage and the ceiling.

Preparing for recess

Playground safety and planning is an entire topic of its own, but here are a few things to be aware of as the school year starts for schools that have a playground area.

  • Rules for using the playground should be prominently displayed.
  • Loose, ground surfacing (i.e., wood mulch or sand) should be replenished to 12 inches of depth, extending at least six feet from any equipment and farther on equipment that children often jump from (i.e., swings and exit slide chutes). 
  • All playground equipment needs to be inspected and repaired.

School bus safety

As with playgrounds, school bus safety is a lengthy topic, but the two key components are hiring safe drivers and maintaining school buses.

A thorough application, interview and selection process needs to be in place for school bus drivers, which includes receiving an applicant’s Motor Vehicle Review prior to hiring, as well as ensuring a medical screening is performed to rule out conditions that would impair the applicant’s ability to drive safely.

Another important factor is maintaining and repairing a fleet of school buses. This should be an ongoing process, however ensuring that a thorough inspection of all school buses is done before school starts is always a good practice.

Other Resources

There are many internet sources that outline various school safety topics. At the National Crime Prevention Council website ( the topics listed include bullying, cell phone safety, conflict resolution, disaster preparedness, among many others. At the National School Safety Center website (, a school safety site assessment is available as well as a checklist of characteristics of youth who have caused school-associated violent deaths. 

For an easy to print and use form on back-to-school safety, check out VMLIP’s Back to School Checklist available in the Multimedia Library.  Other resources that may be helpful include the Back Safety for School Employees video and the Playground Safety module, also available in the Multimedia Library.

Schools may also benefit from utilizing the new VMLIP training production on preventing slips, trips, and falls. For more information on obtaining a copy of this, contact Karen Wall at:

VMLIP offers more than just coverage.  We are partners in risk management. How does your insurer stack up?  Having all lines of coverage with VMLIP ensures that your organization is receiving comprehensive coverage and a wide variety of value-added services tailored to Virginia’s local governmental entities.  Call for a quote today: (800) 963-6800.  For more information on VMLIP visit: or follow us on Facebook.

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