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How the Minnesota School Safety Center helps keep your children safe

Aug. 5, 2019

Locked school doors with directions to enter through the office

Did you ever think of a school as a miniature community? If not, that’s okay: The Minnesota School Safety Center (MnSSC) does. And just like regular communities, school communities need infrastructure: transportation (school bus operations), healthcare (school nurses), food systems (lunchroom procedures) and public safety. That last part is where the MnSSC comes in. They help schools develop guidelines and processes to run smoothly and stay safe from threats, from fires to intruders to severe weather, just to name a few.

It’s no small job: Over the next few weeks, over 850,000 Minnesota children will go back to school, and they all need to be safe. But the MnSSC has been hard at work all summer. They use the months while children are away to work with educators and administrators to conduct facility assessments, consult with schools as they renovate their buildings to address security issues, and hold trainings for school resource officers.

The MnSSC isn’t a regulatory authority, which means they can’t dictate the decisions schools and districts make. But even if they could, they wouldn’t want to, because every school is different. Instead, MnSSC takes a multifaceted, 360-degree approach to assessing potential threats, such as:

  • Emergency operations
  • Violent intruder response
  • Access controls
  • Assessment team development
  • De-escalation strategies

And they do it all for free. Ever since the Parkland School shooting in February 2018, MnSSC staff have had an increase in requests for safety trainings and threat assessments. And to fulfill those requests, they needed more people, and therefore more funding. Fortunately, Gov. Walz recommended an additional $250,000 each year over the next two years to support two additional staff members, whom MnSSC hope to bring on sometime after the new year.

If you look at how much work the MnSSC did in 2018 alone – serving 2,948 people in 5,958 contact hours – you’d think they’d have a pretty big staff. But no, the MnSSC helps keep school children and educators safe all over Minnesota with just three people. Imagine what they’ll be able to do with five.