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By Jeff Pack
Staff Writer 

School safety expert working with FUESD Executive Safety Committee

 

Last updated 9/27/2019 at 6:13pm

Morgan Ballis is the founder of Campus Safety Alliance and a member of the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District's Executive Safety Committee.

Morgan Ballis knows all about school safety. As the founder of the Campus Safety Alliance, he works with schools and school districts to ensure the best possible policies are in place to protect children.

Back in August, he was asked to join the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District's Executive Safety Committee.

"The purpose of the committee is to provide a community-based approach to school safety by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders including district leaders, educators, technology experts, law enforcement officers, medical first responders, emergency management professionals and parents," Ballis said. "The committee explores all facets of campus safety including physical infrastructure improvements, emergency response procedures, communication protocols, drill observations and access control. The goal is to develop consistency throughout the district while addressing the site-specific needs and considerations of each campus."

He said the committee is working toward implementing programs and standards to effectively prevent violence from happening in Fallbrook schools.

"This means creating a culture of inclusiveness, open dialogue and spreading a message of love on every campus," Ballis said. "Programs such as the Sandy Hook Promise Start With Hello! challenge students to reach out to peers they may not normally talk to. Start With Hello Week is Sept. 23-27. Parents and students should expect a tidal wave of outreach and resources encouraging students to move away from clicks and move toward a culture of community at their school."

As an expert in the field, Ballis had some suggestions for parents on what they can do stay ahead of any potential risk issues with their children.

"As a PK-12 emergency management professional, the most important thing parents can do to help keep their kids safe at school is talk, talk, talk," he said. "We need to talk about bullying. Directly asking our children if there are situations at school that require our support to resolve. We need to talk about self-harm and depression. We need to recognize changes, sometimes subtle, in the way our children are dealing with stress and life in general."

Ballis said parents should also talk with their children about dangerous situations should they arise on campus.

"We need to talk about worst case scenarios," he said. There may be situations where our students are forced to evacuate campus without the guidance or direction of an adult. This could happen during a fire or an attack on campus. We need to discuss where are students should go and how they should contact a loved one. Essentially, stranger danger rules apply, but they need to know those rules, even at the kindergarten level."

More than anything else, Ballis said parents need to reinforce with their children that school drills are very important. He said it is important for adults to develop a plan as well, outside of the school environment.

"The skills and the mindset developed during emergency drills apply outside of school," he said. "Knowing what to do during an earthquake, fire or an attack will help you make decisions more quickly when there are no adults around to guide you. You may find yourself leading family, friends or even strangers to safety during a crisis because you have already developed a mental game plan. More importantly than anything, you have the authority to take action and keep yourself safe."

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.

 

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