Health, safety top agenda in new school year
Changes to school safety plans, lead testing on tap
FOR RELEASE: August 31, 2016
CONTACT: David Albert
School employees must now receive training on violence prevention and mental health, under a new law taking effect this school year.
In addition, schools may have to begin testing their water supplies for lead contamination under a proposal passed by both houses of the state Legislature and expected to be signed into law by the governor.
"As we start the school year, while students and teachers will be focusing on the 3 Rs in the classroom, school leaders will be ensuring that schools meet new health and safety requirements," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer.
School Safety Initiatives
The training on violence prevention and mental health is part of an overall requirement that school districts train employees on their emergency response plans. School districts may provide the training as part of their existing professional development program. New employees hired after the start of the school year must receive the training within 30 days.
Also on the school safety front, beginning this year, schools must now designate a "chief emergency officer" who is responsible for coordinating communications between staff, first responders and law enforcement during a crisis. School districts are still required to conduct 12 fire and emergency drills, but now four of these drills must be lockdown drills.
Lead Testing in Water
Under legislation awaiting the governor's signature, school districts and BOCES are expected to be required to periodically test for lead contamination in school water.
If the testing reveals lead contamination, schools will be required to continue to conduct tests and provide safe drinking water to students and employees. Districts must also notify parents of the test results as well as post the results on the school district's website.
"Above all else, our schools must provide safe havens for learning," said Kremer.