As part of the new academic year, schools across the state of Delaware will launch a new School Safety and Wellness Suite that the state says incorporates a comprehensive approach to alert administrators of serious situations while providing students with the necessary tools and resources to prevent or deter a situation from escalating.

“In an emergency, the timeliness of help is critical. I’m excited this platform will make it easier and faster to access wellness resources and reach immediate support in a crisis,” Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Holodick said.

The program was announced by the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, the Delaware Department of Education, and the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

The first part of the program is SAFE DE, an anonymous reporting app that includes crisis texting, mental health education, and other resources. The state noted that SAFE DE is available to all public and charter schools and enables students to communicate directly with a help center and school officials in times of need, including direct access to a “Crisis Text Line.” State leaders said in a press release that the goal is to improve school safety by helping identify and intervene with those at risk of harming themselves or others.

The second component of the suite encompasses threat assessment and suicide risk assessment models combined with staff training. Delaware’s Comprehensive School Safety Program (CSSP) has chosen evidence-based models to provide students and staff with the same standardized process throughout the entire state.

The third piece is a case management system that stores and tracks critical information as a student proceeds in their K-12 education. The agencies responsible for the rollout said the goal is to ensure that no student slips through the cracks and fails to get the care and services they may need.

“The safety and well-being of Delaware residents, especially our students, is our number one priority,” said Delaware Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security Nathaniel McQueen, Jr. “This technology, which is linked to subject matter experts, ensures our students have the best resources available when it is needed most. We encourage our students, parents, and educators to utilize these resources.”

The state said that “many of Delaware’s 19 school districts and charter schools” have already onboarded and implemented the new program. The state noted that 83,000 students – or more than half of the state’s 140,000 total enrollment – already benefit from the new programs. Efforts to onboard remaining schools are ongoing.

“SAFE DE and these comprehensive safety and wellness tools are one of a number of initiatives the DEMA Comprehensive School Safety Program has brought to the community to help lower risk,” said A.J. Schall, director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency. “I appreciate the partnerships built to make sure this is available to all public and charter schools in Delaware.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs