When you look around these days, it’s easy to think that the world is getting angrier and less safe for our children. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the raging political discord, we’ve heard from parents who want to know how they can keep their kids safe. We believe that the role of a private school is to partner with families and students to create a safe environment. Safety is all-encompassing. It includes everything we do to keep kids physically safe, emotionally safe, and safe from illness. We’ve compiled a list of things that we think parents and private schools can do together to make this year the best that it can be for our students.
Protecting Your Children’s Health
I don’t think any of us considered that we would be experiencing another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic this year. Our students have had to adjust to a great deal of change over the last two years, and we are so impressed with their flexibility. As parents and school leaders, we can all agree that children’s health and safety are at the top of our priorities. Our faculty and staff continue to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID on our campus. We know there are varying opinions on the subject, and we are grateful that the members of our community have shown a willingness to collaborate on this issue.
But masks aren’t the end of the health safety discussion. Eventually, this pandemic will be in the rearview mirror, and students will still need to have good habits to keep themselves safe from the common cold, flu, or other illnesses. As a parent, you can’t keep them from getting sick, but you can give them the tools and habits to help them keep themselves well. Things like handwashing, coughing, and sneezing into their arm rather than their hand, and taking care of their bodies when they’re feeling under the weather are essential life skills that will keep them healthy and prevent the spread of illness on campus. Whether it’s COVID or a cold, we’d all love to keep our kids from getting sick. But as parents, the best tool we have is to teach them how to protect themselves.
Protecting Your Children From Bad Guys
While COVID seems to be on the top of all of our minds these days, we all know it’s not the only thing we want to protect our children from. It’s hard to explain to young children that some people in the world aren’t good and that they need protection from some situations. At St. Barnabas, we take many precautions to keep our private school campus safe from people who don’t belong there. But there are some important lessons that you can be instilling your children at home that will keep them safe wherever they go.
There was a point when parents used the term Stranger Danger to remind their kids not to speak to people they didn’t know. A good idea on the surface, there were some downsides to this method. First, we want our kids to know that not all people are bad and that there are certain types of people they should look for in case of an emergency. Police officers or firefighters are a perfect example. Second, this method discounts the fact that many mistreated children are done so at the hands of people they know. Rather than teach kids to avoid dangerous people, parents can teach them to avoid hazardous situations.
Protecting Your Children’s Hearts And Minds
One of the most valuable things about joining a private school community is the special care and attention paid to teaching kids how to be good people, not just good students. It’s in our mission statement to empower students to achieve moral excellence. We know this is important to you as well. But, on-campus or off, it’s inevitable that your children will encounter people who don’t have their emotional safety in mind. When we say emotional safety, we don’t mean the individual conflicts children get into with one another—instead, the mean and bullying behavior which can have a long-term impact on them.
As parents, it’s devastating to know that people would be unkind to our children. But we can’t protect them from everyone. However, we can give them the tools to stand up for themselves against people who would try to cause them emotional harm. When our kids know who they are and are confident in themselves, it’s easier to stand up to bullies and call out their lies. Encourage your kids to share with a safe adult when they feel mistreated, even if that mistreatment occurs close to home.
When children are little, they don’t have the sense to keep themselves safe. Of course, you remember the days of teaching your child to look both ways before running into oncoming traffic. The more they know about staying safe, the easier it is to let go of their hands and allow them to walk on their own. The same is true of all the safety issues we’ve discussed here. As much as we’d like to, we can’t keep our children safe everywhere they go. But, when we teach them the skills needed to keep themselves safe, they’ll be ready to take on the world.
As you know, St. Barnabas Episcopal School is a private school, and we take our responsibilities to keep your children’s safety very seriously. Contact our office if you’re interested in learning more about our community or our various safety precautions.