Opinion: Student safety behind new education laws for California schools in 2019

Opinion / Guest Commentary / Our Readers Write:

Several new Assembly Bills surrounding education go into effect Jan. 1, 2019. Many of these new laws affect our local schools and students. For example, two address school safety.

As our schools face challenges in responding to incidents of school violence, including active shootings, safety plans must be put into place to better protect students. AB1747 expands school safety plans to include procedures for active shooter situations and requires schools to conduct annual active shooter drills.

Without question, the fear of school shootings is very real, but many classroom doors do not have the ability to be locked from the inside and that that is a problem should there be an active shooter on campus. AB 3205 addresses this concern and requires that school construction or modernization projects must now include plans for door locks that allow classroom doors to be locked from the inside, excluding doors that are locked at all times and student restrooms. So in situations where an active shooter is on campus, teachers will be able to lock their classroom doors to keep students safe.

AB 2291 is a new law that addresses bullying in school. Bullying has been shown to have extremely negative impacts on students and creates an unsafe school environment. To maintain and a safe school environment, educators and staff must be equipped with the resources to help them prevent bullying in classrooms so schools will now be required to include their policies procedures related to the prevention of bullying in school safety plans.

Sadly, in the last year two students in California passed away from heat illness. It is known that heat illness during practice or competition is one of the leading causes of death among U.S. high school athletes.

When temperatures are in the 90s or 100s during the summer months heat illness is a relevant concern for student-athletes. AB 2800 requires high school coaches to be trained with a basic understanding of the symptoms of heat illness. It would add certification to the first aid training that high school coaches already receive that proves an understanding of signs of heat illness and the appropriate responses.

When needed, the San Diego County Office of Education will provide or help formulate new curricula, staff development and training programs to help our local school districts implement these new laws.

Mark Powell is a San Diego County Board of Education trustee, representing District 1. He's also an adjunct professor at National University.

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