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Safety Drills at School: What’s Important for Parents of ESL Students to Know

As an educator, you know how important it is to do everything within your school’s power to keep your students safe. There are drills for natural disasters, lockdowns, and fires, among others. You also know how crucial it is that parents understand what their children may experience or expect with regard to these drills when they leave for school each morning.


Your school will have its own standard for communications with parents regarding school safety drills, and you likely have some sort of FAQ or summary sheet about safety drills and what to do in an actual emergency or threat situation. If this type of parental communication is only available in English, however, you may be missing a communication link between your school and the parents of ESL students, who may not speak English well or at all in the home.

The types of drills that take place in U.S. schools may not be as commonplace in other countries, so the concept could potentially be quite foreign to these parents. As such, being able to receive proper information about what their children may be experiencing in school is even more critical. It is just as important for these parents to understand what types of drills their children may be undergoing, how often, and the way you carry out these drills. Understanding what is happening affords them the opportunity to communicate with their children before and after these events, as they help their children through what could be a potentially distressing part of the school day if they were not to understand fully what is happening during the drill.

If you have a FAQ page or summary sheet that you may need translated, consider the student population to determine in which languages to make them available. If you have multiple Spanish or Chinese-speaking families who attend your school, for example, focus on these languages first. Be sure to use a professional to avoid mistranslated text, as errors in communications about safety drills are usually not well received.