With the new academic year embracing us, it’s time to ask ourselves, ‘Is my child’s school safe?’ Here's a checklist with 40 questions every parent must ask.
By Arun Sharma
The new academic year is here and there is buzz in the air. Last year was fairly turbulent in India with a few dangerous incidents keeping the parents on the edge. Those incidents have only reaffirmed the need for parents to play a more proactive role in ensuring their child’s safety in school.
Before admitting their children into a school, parents ask a lot of questions aimed at understanding how well qualified the teachers are and how well they conduct the classes. However, they rarely think much about the safety measures implemented in the school. Here are a few questions every parent should ask to understand if their child’s school is safe.
1. Has the structure been built as per norms laid out by the authorities?
2. Are the rooms bright and clean? Is the campus devoid of dark corners?
3. Is the school campus secure against unauthorised entry and exit (of both humans and stray animals)?
4. During an emergency, do the doors provide free access for hasty exits?
5. Are the corridors and rooms under surveillance all the time?
6. Are the electrical fittings child-proof?
7. Are there any protruding or obstructing structures into which children may collide and get hurt?
8. Is there anti-skid flooring so that children don’t slip and fall (especially in the washrooms)?
9. Is the school premises free of plants and materials that may provoke allergic reactions?
10. Is the furniture sturdy and doesn’t topple easily?
11. Are hazardous materials like construction materials/equipment, lab equipment/material stored under safe conditions?
12. Are the washrooms child-friendly and the floors always kept dry?
13. What are the fire-safety measures?
14. Are all the play equipment in a good condition so that they do not cause injury to kids?
15. Is there a fence around the playground?
16. Do the authorities regularly inspect the play equipment and playground?
17. Have background checks been carried out for all the individuals employed in the school?
18. Is the teacher-to-student ratio conducive for children in lower classes to receive adequate supervision and monitoring?
19. Do the teaching staff know how to provide first aid?
20. Can teachers handle life-threatening situations, like a child choking on food, having an asthma attack or sustaining a head injury?
21. Do the staff receive training whenever policies are updated or changed?
22. What does the school do when they find that a child is sick or injured?
23. Are there any trained nurses to attend to a sick or injured child?
24. Does the school have a tie-up with any hospital where the child is rushed to receive further care?
25. How much time do they take to inform parents about the condition of their child?
26. In case the school conducts any health camps, do they seek prior permission from parents?
27. Does the school insist on a certificate of fitness from a child who is joining school after a period of illness?
28. Does the school have a counsellor to take care of the mental health of the children?
29. Is the food in the canteen prepared under hygienic conditions?
30. What kind of nutritious food is provided to children from the school canteen?
31. What kind of checks are carried out in the kitchen to ensure against food poisoning?
32. How does the canteen ensure that a child allergic to a certain food item is not provided the same?
33. How does the transport staff ensure that every child is on board?
34. Do they drop the children only at the designated spots?
35. If a child develops motion sickness, what kind of care would she receive on the bus?
36. Are there any cases of negligent driving pending against any of the school bus drivers?
37. Are the school buses and vans subject to regular inspection to ensure they are in good condition?
38. How frequently do the cleaning staff wipe and mop the floors, especially of washrooms?
39. How are toys and play equipment cleaned?
40. Do both children and teachers compulsorily wash their hands after activities like conducting experiments in the lab?
Your child's safety is of the utmost importance. Make sure your school ensures this for her.
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