Post Covid-19 Safety: Back To School Campus Safety Guide

Post Covid-19 Safety: Back To School Campus Safety Guide

 

  • The most common offenses committed on college campuses are auto theft, burglary, and forceful sex acts. 
  • Many services are available to students who want to improve their safety knowledge and victims who need assistance. 
  • The Campus Safety and Security website of the Department of Education publishes statistics on the number and types of crimes committed at all postsecondary institutions.
  • On-campus safety measures can assist students in reducing risks and avoiding injury.
  • A comprehensive self-defense strategy includes the use of Pepper spray and Personal defense alarms both of which can effectively deter intruders and alert people around if you're in danger.

Since the last two decades, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates a general decrease in crime rates on college campuses. In 2017, there were 29,100 criminal events reported at postsecondary schools; in 2018, the figure was 28,500. College preparation includes raising students' knowledge of potential dangers and providing them with access to tools that enable them to remain safe.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools must strike a balance between students' academic, social, and psychological needs, as well as the health and safety of students and employees. For parents and other caretakers, the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it a new set of concerns such as how to protect yourself and your loved ones. School administrators and government authorities usually decide what school and learning should look like on a local level. In general, schools tend to choose between three options:

Distance learning: It is possible to learn from a distance. In this system, all training is done remotely utilizing technology and other resources.

In-person schooling: Schooling takes place in person. This paradigm is comparable to traditional teaching, but it incorporates additional health and safety precautions and processes.

Hybrid schooling: Hybrid education is a term used to describe a type of education that combines This model with characteristics of both distance and face-to-face learning.

Even during the academic year and during the pandemic, schools may use one or several ways. Being prepared for a range of school settings can help you and your child feel more empowered and more decisive. 

In each scenario, you may take actions as a student or parent to limit COVID-19 risks, ensure safety, and make educated decisions to prevent more exposure to or spread of COVID-19 or other contagious deadly diseases.

 

Campus Crime Statistics

The frequency of recorded crimes and offenses on campus can provide some insight into the difficult-to-quantify characteristic of "safety." An institution with a large number of students would be expected to have proportionally more incidences than a small liberal arts college. Of course, the data only includes offenses that have been reported.

Take for example Institutions like Pennsylvania State University - University Park which had an Enrollment of 91,427 in 2019. Here is the stats on the occurrence in the school: 

Aggravated Assault (2017-2019) = 28

Hate Crimes (2017-2019) = 17

Drug Abuse Violations (2017-2019) = 752 

Liquor Law Violations (2017-2019) = 2,748

Sexual Assaults (2019) = 65

Robbery/Burglary (2019) = 30

 

Institution: American University

Enrollment (2019): 14,318

Aggravated Assault (2017-2019): 5

Hate Crimes (2017-2019): 5

Drug Abuse Violations (2017-2019): 438

Liquor Law Violations (2017-2019): 1,133

Sexual Assaults (2019):18

Robbery/Burglary (2019): 7

 

Institution: University of Rochester

Enrollment (2019): 12

Aggravated Assault (2017-2019): 3

Hate Crimes (2017-2019): 0

Drug Abuse Violations (2017-2019): 512

Liquor Law Violations (2017-2019): 703

Sexual Assaults (2019): 53

Robbery/Burglary (2019): 2

 

Taking a careful look at the three sample data above (from this source) you will realize that the size of school or number of students has no direct correlation on the number of crimes committed, therefore you have to take care to protect yourself and prevent becoming a victim while on campus and this comprehensive guide will help you

Measuring Campus Safety

In 2018, 19.5 on-campus offenses per 10,000 full-time students at four-year institutions were reported. Burglary, auto theft, sexual abuse, and fondling are the most common crimes perpetrated on college campuses. Academic institutions with campus buildings, colleges nearby large cities, and universities with heavy alcohol and drug consumption rates are among the most crime-ridden.

Furthermore, students and parents can read a college's yearly security report, which is prepared by the federal Clery Act, which requires universities to report their most recent campus crime stats and divulges their campus safety and protection protocols.

Campus Safety Tips

Criminal behavior happens when huge groups of people converge in one spot. Safe college partying habits, as well as other campus safety measures, can assist limit risks and negative results. Use these safety recommendations below to keep safe when having a good time.

Covid-19 Prevention

You can prevent becoming a victim just by adhering to the following preventive measures. So, we can put an end to the Covid-19 pandemic not just on our campuses but around the world.

Get vaccinated

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15. In youngsters aged 12 to 15, the vaccine is 100 percent effective in avoiding the virus. Two weeks after receiving the second dose of the vaccine, you or your child are considered fully vaccinated. There are precautions you may take to avoid contracting the virus and transmitting it to others. Such as listed below:

Wear a mask

Face masks are recommended by the CDC and WHO in indoor and outdoor public settings where there is a high potential for COVID-19 transmission. Wearing quilting cotton or cotton sheets face masks should be a top concern, especially when maintaining social distance is difficult. A face mask should not be worn by a child under the age of two, a youngster that has any respiratory problems, or a kid who has issues that prevent him or her from removing the mask without assistance.

Keep hands clean

Hand-washing should be practiced with your child in the house, and you should clarify why it's necessary to wash his or her hands for at least 20 seconds. Routines that encourage frequent hand washing and healthy hand hygiene habits should be encouraged in schools. When students cough or sneeze, instruct them to cover their mouths and noses with their elbows or tissues, then wash their hands.

Clean and disinfect

Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched things can help prevent disease, whether your child is educated at home or at school. Doorknobs, faucets, keyboards, tablets, and phones are examples of commonly handled items.

Stay home if sick

You should be health conscious every day but also keep an eye on your youngster for signs of COVID-19 every day. Fever, nasal congestion or runny nose, cough, sore throat, fatigue, headache, nausea, and diarrhea are some of the symptoms. As part of symptom screening, some colleges may consider taking daily temperature readings. However, because many of these symptoms overlap with those of other disorders such as the common cold, allergies, and influenza, the screening's efficiency may be restricted.

Don't skip vaccinations

Every season, all school-aged children and college students should have a flu shot. This season, receiving a flu shot is especially crucial because the flu and COVID-19 have similar signs and symptoms. Although the flu vaccination does not prevent COVID-19, it can help to minimize the chance of getting the flu and its consequences. It's another line of defense to keep students from missing school.

What to do if your child is exposed to COVID-19

Take precautionary measures for your child for potential COVID-19 exposure and changing settings if your child will be going to attend an in-person school. Make a plan to safeguard family members and other members of the family who may be at risk of serious disease. Prepare for quarantine or school closures in advance. If your child comes into close touch with someone who has the virus, he or she may need to stay at home. Consult your local school district for further details on what steps your local schools are taking to lessen the risk of disease.

Get To Know Your Campus

  • Take the safest paths to your courses and buildings, and stay in well-lit, well-traveled places where you may be seen easily. 
  • Be aware of the locations of the blue light emergency telephone stations. 
  • Pay a visit to the Office of Campus Safety. Become a subscriber to Campus Safety Alerts. 
  • Take a look at a few different safety apps. Should you not arrive at your location by a set time, certain systems will notify a specific person.

Know Your Way Around Campus

Consider obtaining a campus map and getting to know your way about the campus throughout the day, when the campus is bustling with students and professors.

Use Locks

Always secure the door to your dorm room or apartment. This powerful deterrent has the ability to stop robbers in their tracks. Secure your car doors (even if you're driving) and store valuables hidden.

Protect your dorm or apartment doors, your automobile doors, and your valuables to avoid self-defense scenarios. This is good practice not only when leaving home or driving, but also when you are at home or driving. A basic locked door can sway a predator on the lookout for easy prey. Personal safety can be as simple as locking doors.

  • Even if you're only going to be gone for a few minutes, consistently lock your dorm/apartment door.
  • Allowing someone to “piggyback” into a building is never a good idea. Allow them to enter using their own credentials.
  • When you're inside, keep your doors locked.
  • Place valuables in a closet, safe, or locked drawer, such as laptops, iPads, and cash.
  • Electronic equipment should be registered with your school, and you should keep track of serial numbers on campuses and at home with your parents.
  • Keep valuables hidden and locked in your car.
  • Parking should be done in well-lit places.

Don’t Just Trust Locks

A lock may deter a predator from looking for a free target, but not all predators will be deterred. Security door wedges, for example, can afford you valuable time to deploy yourself and phone the cops. These are frequently inexpensive, tiny, and simple to operate. Door security bars and door wedges with alarms are also good options.

Trust Your Gut

This is a significant issue. If you find yourself in an unpleasant situation, recognize it and then get yourself out of it. At worst, you're being overly careful, and at best, you're avoiding a potentially deadly situation. Your instincts have gotten you this far, so trust them.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings On The Campus

When you really can't help but get outside when it's dark to get things done, here are a few ideas:

  • Avoid Distractions - if you have to use earbuds while walking, keep the volume to bear minimal, and keep your phone in the pocket or bag, then pay attention to people and what is happening around you. Many accidents have occurred because some students can’t keep their heads out of their phones while chatting or listening to loud headphones.
  • Even if you don't know where you're going, make it appear as if you do. Keep your eyes on your surroundings, particularly behind you, while you walk confidently.
  • Always let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back, such as a buddy or roommate.
  • Be vigilant before getting into your automobile and when using the road, look around.

Never Walk Alone After Dark

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When walking alone at night, always walk with a friend or use the buddy system. A campus escort shuttle is also available at most campuses.

Walk With A Friend - Buddy System

 

The buddy system is about staying in pairs. This is a method in which two people, referred to as "buddies," work as a single unit to monitor and help one another. You can pair a strong person with a weak person, or a new student with an old student, such that where one is weak, the other can compensate. Students can use this method to safeguard one another by walking in pairs and empowering one another by sharing vital information.

Take Advantage of Campus Escort Services

Now many schools provide escort services on campus, especially at night. For contact details and operating hours, contact the public safety office.

Know Where the Emergency Systems Are On-Campus

Make a list of the emergency blue light phones so you know where they are. You can use these phones to contact the public safety office directly if you forget your phone or it dies.

Consider Carrying a Whistle, Pepper Spray, or Alarm

These tools can help prevent the attack or notify a bystander that you're in danger.

Pepper spray is a low-cost personal protection alternative that can be carried in a pocket, backpack, or purse. Despite the fact that it is a terrible experience for attackers, it is a great non-lethal option when compared to carrying a handgun. Pepper spray is a useful tool, but it should only be used as part of a larger self-defense plan.

Caution: Utilizing pepper spray in an irresponsible manner might result in criminal or civil consequences. It is illegal to spray an unsuspecting person in the eyes. In most places, it would be prosecuted with assault or battery, similar to a slap across the face.

 

Personal defense alarms can provide an extra layer of protection by deterring attackers and seeking assistance when needed. Personal alarms are a form of body-worn security system that can be quite good at stopping the invader(s).

Take a Self-Defense Class

Knowing how to defend yourself can improve your chances of fending off an attacker. Many colleges and universities offer these classes for credit or free of charge.

Be Aware of Your Social Media Settings

Review your privacy settings on social media platforms to ensure that only certain of your friends can view your posts. Remove location finders on your social media sites that broadcast this information publicly as well.

Avoid Drinking Too Much

Excessive drinking can lead to poor decisions that place you in unsafe circumstances. If you're going to drink, never accept a drink from someone you don't know.

Going To Campus Parties

For college students, returning to school is an exciting moment. It's an opportunity to reconnect with old acquaintances, begin new classes, and reclaim independence after a summer spent at home. New places and experiences, however, bring with them new hazards and possibly dangerous situations. Talk to your pals about tense scenarios that may necessitate a contingency plan, and do not hesitate to leave a party early if you're uncomfortable. The unpleasant reality is that violence on college campuses is on the rise. However, there is no need to be concerned; this does not imply that you must remain at home. You can stay safe on campus with only a few school campus safety ideas and preventative habits.

Feed Before You Leave

Ensure you eat something and drink some water before you go out dancing. This will provide you with the strength you need to showcase your skills on the dance floor while also reducing the impact of alcohol should you choose to drink.

Ensure your gadgets are charged.

Maintain a full charge on your phone and MiFi modem (if you have one), and carry a power bank (if you must) to ensure you never run out of power. Then, in your address book, put the campus safety contact information. Your phone will be charged and ready for use if you truly need to call for help in an emergency.

Stay Alert with drinks and food

Don't forget to keep an eye on your drinks.

Many date rape medicines have no odor, no color, and no taste. Stay on the alert someone might want to ingest a foreign material into your drink or food if you left it unguarded, and you might not notice. Keeping your drinks close at hand is the greatest approach to avoid this. Furthermore, Accepting drinks from people you don't know is a bad idea, as is giving in to peer pressure.

Respect Your Boundaries

Ensure you know what your limits are before going out or trying new things. If you're driving, don't drink because it doesn't take much to show above the permissible limits on a blood alcohol test. It's also crucial to understand how many drinks are too much so you don't put yourself in danger. Additionally, If you can, take a Uber to and fro because it’s better to have someone neutral and clear-headed drive than any of you who might be too excited and might lack the concentrated attention that driving requires.

Keep the Essentials with You

Take your ID, phone, keys, and any cash or credit cards, and everything that will fit comfortably in a pocket if you're heading out. You don't want to be stranded anywhere without the funds to return home or a way to contact assistance.

Get Safety Via Phone

Don’t Get Sucked Into Your Phone

This is a significant point. The modern smartphone is a fantastic technology that has made a positive impact on society. However, the smartphone, when abused, makes it simple to lose situational awareness. It's never a good idea to stroll and use your phone at the same time. You're not only more vulnerable to being attacked, but you're also more likely to trip, get hit by a car, or, even, fall down a well.

Always Have Emergency Contacts in Your Phone

Make a list of emergency numbers on your phone, like the campus safety office, so you don't have to search them up in an emergency.

Locate A Panic Phone

Panic phones are found on the great majority of large college campuses. These phones will link you straight to an emergency service so that you can receive assistance. We all have cell phones, yet we all know how fragile they are and how quickly their batteries die. Knowing where all Panic Phones are located is an excellent method to implement effective personal security.

 

What to Do if You Are the Victim of a Campus Crime

While the majority of students get through college without such incident, some become victims of campus crime. Knowing what to do if you or a friend is the victim of a property crime or a physical or sexual assault can make it easier to receive help.

Follow the procedures outlined below to enable you to safeguard yourself and obtain support.

If Possible, Get to a Safe Place

To avoid further escalation, get to a well-lit, busy place as soon as feasible. Stay put until help arrives.

Call 911 and Follow Instructions

Immediately dial 911. Until security forces or emergency services arrive, the 911 operator will walk you through a plan of action.

Contact a Trusted Friend or Family Member

Make a call to a helpful friend or family member who can assist you or provide you with a safe space.

Consult Legal Counsel

To evaluate your legal options, contact an attorney.

Seek a Civil Protection Order

All such restraining orders could help keep assailants at a safe distance off of you and can lead to criminal charges if they are ignored.

Contact Your Bank

To prevent unauthorized usage of your bank account or credit cards, contact your bank and disclose the theft as soon as you can.

Request a Housing Change

Consider a change of accommodation if the attacker knows where you reside.

 

Reporting a Campus Crime

Approximately 20% of female college students between the ages of 18 and 24 report forcible sexual assaults to authorities. Fear of retaliation and a misunderstanding of what comprises sexual assault are among the reasons given for not reporting an occurrence. Report an event so that students can better defend themselves and get future support.

Call the Police

Inform the police and also campus security in any case of emergency if you are concerned for your safety.

Make a List of Stolen Property

Give police the list of stolen items that includes a detail of each item. This database aids police and security officers in locating the property that has been recovered.

Get Medical Attention

Victims of violent attacks should seek medical assistance as quickly as possible at the hospital immediately. Individuals who have been victimized may be shocked and unaware of the physical or psychological harm they have sustained.

Meet With the University

Students should contact the school administrators and report any on-campus crimes. Many institutions provide services to support victims, such as counseling and accommodation relocation choices, in addition to avoiding the aggressor from repeating the offense.

Seek Counseling

Those who have been victims of university crime, especially sexual assault, should get treatment and therapy. In many cases, the psychological wounds left by physical trauma surpass the physical harm. The majority of schools provide free, confidential counseling. Off-campus victim advocacy services can also help students find counseling and other services.

 

Campus Safety Resources

Campus Safety and Security

This webpage from the United States Department of Education produces reports of on-campus violence for colleges and universities.

 

National Sexual Assault Online Hotline

This free and private hotline is operated by RAINN, America's leading anti-sexual abuse organization. Victims of sexual abuse can contact (800) 656-HOPE.

National Organization for Victim Assistance

This nationwide victim assistance organization, which was founded in 1975, assists crime victims by linking them with information and services.

PACT5

PACT5 is a five-university initiative that employs student documentaries to raise awareness about sexual assault on college campuses.

The National Center for Campus Public Safety: Affiliate Program List

This directory contains a comprehensive list of government agencies and organizations dedicated to assisting and safeguarding crime victims and their family members.

SAFER

SAFER provides students with a variety of materials regarding sexual assault on college campuses and educates advocates on how to raise awareness.

Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women

This non-profit organization offers self-defense techniques and advice, as well as information on what to check for in a solid self-defense program.

Office for Victims of Crime

OVC, a project of the United States Department of Justice, provides support and information to crime victims, such as victim compensation.

College Drinking - Changing the Culture

This comprehensive website provides statistics on alcohol consumption, its effects, and college alcohol policy to parents and students.

Travel Advisories

This website from the United States Department of State provides vital safety information to the students thinking about studying abroad.

 

Conclusion

Life is a beautiful adventure and schooling is an amazing opportunity to be educated and unleash the genius within. The risk of danger is real but it doesn’t mean you should leave in fear of it, rather be safety conscious. This comprehensive post can serve as a guide to increase your awareness in order to make better decisions that will help you prevent being a victim and what you can do to quickly dissolve a bad situation such as carrying pepper spray and personal alarms. If you use the tips and recommendations in this article, your back-to-school experience will be blissful.

Reference

Questions to ask about campus safety

6 school safety rules

College party safety guidelines

Campus crime preventions

Resources on campus safety guide