TO step up their preparedness in an emergency, city schools are coming up with stronger security systems to ensure safety of students. With strategic placement of cameras in corridors, play and parking areas, schools are now also ramping up monitoring by installing GPS and CCTV cameras in classrooms and on school buses. There are additional efforts such as fire drills and workshops too, towards preparing students for emergency situations, besides having firefighting equipment on premises.
One school conducting regular fire drills is Billabong High International School in Thane. “In a place like Mumbai where most schools are multi-storey buildings, it is very difficult to get people from a higher floor down to the ground level. We call fire brigade personnel once a quarter to demonstrate on how to use fire extinguisher and staircases and elevators in case of fire,” said Director Dr Ranjini Krishnaswamy.
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The school also has trained teachers as fire marshals for each floor to help students above the fifth floor gather at the open refugee area on the seventh floor, and those up till the fifth floor rush to the ground, ensuring that no one is left stranded in the 10-storey building.
SVKM International School in Vile Parle west conducts an energy audit of the electrical equipment and connections once in every six months to avoid any possible case with respect to electrical apparatus being used in the institution.
Besides periodically giving safety instructions to students and ensuring their awareness of the prevailing security personnel and system on the premises, Yashodham High School and Junior College has started an initiative to involve parents in ensuring better security of their children. There are two ‘safety teams’ consisting of five parents each for primary and secondary wings who undertake inspection of the school premises on a daily basis, who give the required suggestions to reduce the possibility of risk on campus.
In Ryan International School, security is tackled at three levels – physical, occupational health and safety, and digital. It conducts specific quarterly workshops to sensitise children and their parents on how to keep themselves not only physically but also digitally safe.
The school also releases a newsletter named ‘Kaspersky’ on cyber safety that is accessible by students, teachers and parents alike. “It is a huge responsibility on us when parents trust us with their children. Awareness of cyber crime is a must in today’s times and so ensuring emotional security is of utmost importance to us,” said Neti Srinivasan, COO of Ryan International Group of Institutions.
The school is now beginning to experiment with the radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track if the students are getting down at their respective bus stops.
Students of Cathedral and John Connon School have a swipe-card system, wherein they swipe in the card as they enter and exit the bus and the information about it goes straight to their parents on their cell phones. Located in Fort, the school has tied up with the Azad Maidan police station and Bombay Hospital to seek immediate help in panic situations.
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“We don’t want to wait for a mishap and feel sorry for it. To keep our children absolutely safe and sound, we have ensured that everyone, from peons to the principal, has given their identification details to the police – an act that in itself works as a deterrent to crime on campus,” asserts Principal Mira Issacs, explaining that the increased security is only a reaction to what is happening in the world.