This Week in School and Campus Safety

Good morning,

This Weekly Update by the Illinois School and Campus Safety Program includes Part IV of the Back to School Safety/School and Campus Safety Month topics and resources, and provides information on an upcoming threat assessment training through the National Threat Assessment Center.

Thank you for your interest in school and campus safety. However, if you wish to no longer receive our emails, just let me know and I will remove you from our contacts list.


Laura Black
Program Coordinator
Illinois School and Campus Safety Program
Back to School Safety and School and Campus Safety Month, Part IV

As this year's Back to School season and School and Campus Safety Month draw to a close, we want to look at two last safety topics. Having already looked at transportation safety and teen driver safety in our previous installments, it is important to discuss another mode of transportation: Bicycling. The last, but still extremely important, topic we want to help share resources for is Mental and Emotional Health and Wellness.

Bicycle Safety: Although the number of students riding bicycles to school has decreased over the years, there are still students who do, and many students ride bicycles at other times as well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Bicycle Safety Activity Kit
has information for both educators and parents, and breaks the resources into two age groups, 4 to 7 year olds and 8 to 11 year olds. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Transportation's Bicycle Safety Lesson Plans: 3rd through 6th Grade also provide educators with resources for teaching bicycle safety. For older students and coworkers, educators might also consider sharing the Illinois Bicycle: Rules of the Road booklet.

Mental and Emotional Health and Wellness: Oftentimes when people discuss mental and emotional health and wellness in schools, they focus on students' mental health and well-being. However, educator health and wellness is also important. Looking at loneliness as an example, in a 2018 study, 54% of American adults reported feeling lonely. In the 2019 study, 61% reported feeling lonely and the study also reported that "nearly eight in 10 Gen Zers (79%) and seven in 10 millennials (71%) are lonely." The same study also noted that the number of individuals reporting good mental health decreased from 81% to 76% from 2018 to 2019, with 24% reporting in 2019 that their mental health was fair or poor. This was before the pandemic, social distancing, and stay at home orders.

COVID-19 can cause added stress and concerns when it comes to mental and emotional health and wellness. On August 14, 2020, the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report featured the report Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic, which concluded that "markedly elevated prevalences of reported adverse mental and behavioral health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the broad impact of the pandemic and the need to prevent and treat these conditions," and that "Overall, 40.9% of 5,470 respondents who completed surveys during June reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including those who reported symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), those with TSRD symptoms related to COVID-19 (26.3%), those who reported having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 (13.3%), and those who reported having seriously considered suicide in the preceding 30 days (10.7%)."

With the so many individuals experiencing mental and emotional health and wellness issues, it is important to provide resources to help address these concerns. Here are some resources to consider reviewing and sharing:

  • Noting that pandemics and public health actions can cause stress and anxiety, the CDC's Coping with Stress page discusses how people may react to stress, ways to cope with stress, and taking care of your mental health. The page also links to several helplines.

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness's 24-page COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide helps readers find information and resources they need by utilizing a question-based table of contents with entries such as: “I’m having a lot of stress or anxiety because of COVID-19. What can I do?”and “I feel isolated and lonely. How can I find connection while quarantined or at home?”

  • Lastly, Stomp Out Bullying's Prevent Loneliness in a Time of Social Distancing summed up the current situation, saying "The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us that human connection can spread illness. But human connection also promotes wellness. Let’s take this opportunity to recognize the importance of relationships for our health and to practice leveraging technology for social well-being."
Reminder: Upcoming Free Online Training Opportunity on Threat Assessment through NTAC

The Illinois Attorney General, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Illinois School and Campus Safety Program have collaborated to provide FREE threat assessment training through the National Threat Assessment Center on September 18, 2020, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. The training will be held online via Microsoft Teams.

This training opportunity includes findings from the study "Protecting America's Schools: A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence." Additionally, the training's learning objectives include identifying potential threats, developing multidisciplinary and risk management strategies/interventions, demonstrating knowledge of behavioral indicators and triggers, and introducing the new Safe 2 Help platform for reporting school safety concerns in Illinois.
Illinois School and Campus Safety Program