New School Year Review
Review Policies and Procedures
Some policies and procedures have been in place for years, and some are newly instituted. Now is the time to shake the dust off of old policies to make sure they are still relevant, and to be sure you are incorporating new policies to reflect recent changes, such as the rise of social media. In planning for the year ahead, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are your policies and procedures up-to-date?
- Do they adequately reflect the situation at your parish or school?
- Have they been communicated with your staff, volunteers and other relevant parties?
- Has the diocese issued any new policies or guidelines? If so, have they been incorporated into your planning and administration?
- Is there a plan in place to make new staff aware of policies?
- Is there a plan to remind current staff of policies and procedures?
Know the Drill
Make sure you have all your drills scheduled for the year, and that you have the proper procedures in place for each drill.
- Are first responders involved in the planning and execution of drills? It is good practice to invite first responders to at least one type of drill per year for their guidance and feedback?
- Is there a plan in place to alert substitute teachers to drill procedures and any code words that may be used?
- Do you have a checklist for each drill detailing the responsible parties, the procedures to be covered, and places that need improvement?
Church and School Outings
Is your staff prepared for field trips and outings? Do they know the procedures and do they have access to all the necessary forms? It is critical that every minor has a signed permission form from a parent/guardian prior for each field trip. Take into consideration children with special needs, medical conditions and food or environmental allergies when planning your trips. Be sure you have an adequate number of adult chaperones to students, and that each chaperone is certified in the diocesan safe environment program.
For more on field trip forms and guidelines for chaperones, please see our Field Trip section.
Are your phone and email lists up-to-date? Check with staff and volunteers to confirm contact information. Do you have a means of communicating quickly and effectively with staff, volunteers and constituents? Are emergency phone lists posted in the appropriate locations?
Volunteers are the backbone of many parish ministries. Choose volunteers wisely – take care to ensure a volunteer’s placement corresponds with his/her talents and interests. In selecting your volunteers, remember to conduct background checks. Safe environment training is required if they are working with or in the vicinity of children.
If the scope of their volunteer work includes driving on behalf of the parish or school, be sure a Driver Information Sheet has been filled out (see Guide to Field Trips & Sample Forms). Always promptly respond to any complaints regarding your volunteers. Bring any concerns you may have to the attention of the pastor or school principal. This is a good time to review your grievance policy for both employees and volunteer.