Survey Reveals Top Safety Concerns at K–12, Higher-Ed Institutions

Rave Mobile Safety, a provider of critical communication and collaboration technology solutions, has released the results of its 2021 Crisis Communication and Safety in Education Survey. The survey revealed that COVID-19 and student mental health are the top concerns among the 600+ K–12 and higher education staff nationwide who responded to the poll in late March 2021. The report details the biggest safety concerns and crisis communication challenges facing educators, as well as how the institutions plan to respond.

According to the survey’s results:

  • Both K–12 respondents (71%) and higher-education respondents (82%) cited COVID-related issues as the top safety concern for the upcoming 2021–22 academic year.
  • 60% of K–12 respondents and 54% of higher-ed respondents called student mental health the second-most pressing safety issue. Closely following that was student physical health (50% K–12 and 42% higher-ed).
  • Both K–12 (80%) and higher-education (88%) respondents use email as the top communication medium during a crisis. Text messaging came in second with 62% of K–12 and 71% of higher-education respondents.
  • 57% of K–12 respondents and 73% of higher-ed respondents used online submissions as the most popular method of submitting anonymous tips for students, teachers and staff. Among K–12 respondents, 35% used in-person submission boxes, and among higher-ed respondents, 30% used a mobile safety app.
  • Higher-education institutions (70%) are more likely to communicate with first responders in the event of an emergency via safety and security staff. K–12 institutions (73%) are most likely to use emergency communication venues like 9-1-1.
  • About 42% of K–12 and 54% of higher ed respondents said that their institutions are planning a hybrid of in-person and remote learning for the 2021–22 academic year.

As far as crisis communication challenges, about 26% of K–12 and 24% of higher-ed respondents said that they had not faced any during the last year—likely a result of remote learning reducing the risk of in-person emergencies. However, among the remainder, the top challenges included reaching and notifying parents and students, confirming that messages were received, and combatting alert fatigue. About 40% of K–12 and higher-ed respondents both said that their respective institutions are re-evaluating the notification system in place.

Some specific concerns regarding COVID-related safety measures included “keeping students socially distanced, while also properly training for emergencies like fire drills and lockdowns,” according to the report.

“We don’t know how COVID-19 will continue to impact our day-to-day activities,” said Todd Miller, SVP of Strategic Programs at Rave Mobile Safety. “Until we have a better understanding of the impact of variants and vaccines, schools of all kinds must determine how to integrate COVID-19 procedures into existing safety protocols. Clear communication and open channels for reporting concerns will continue to be vital to ensure all school community members receive the information they need to know, whether it’s related to COVID-19, campus safety activities or an imminent threat.”

The survey was conducted by independent research firm Researchscape, and results were gathered in March 2021. Respondents included 642 individuals employed by K–12 or higher-education industries in the capacities of administration, emergency management, facilities and operations, IT services, marketing and communications, safety and security, and student services.

The full results of the 2021 Survey of Crisis Communication and Safety in Education are available on the Rave Mobile Safety website.