More than eight million students participate in interscholastic athletics and afterschool programs each year, and 336 million spectators attend these events. When a school-based emergency or incident occurs, often it is the school personnel who are first to arrive on the scene. Understanding the key role athletic administrators play in mitigating risk in these situations, the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) last year unveiled the first edition of its "Best Practices Guide" for interscholastic athletics.

The release of this guide was only the first step in the long process of improving interscholastic safety and security. In order to make sure these personnel are prepared for safety and security issues, superintendents, principals, athletics administrators, local law enforcement agents and school resource officers from across the country will converge on The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park Long Beach campus April 13-15 for the National Interscholastic Athletics and After-School Activities Safety and Security Summit, hosted by NCS4.

"The National Interscholastic Athletics Safety and Security Summit affords the high school community the opportunity to establish best practices in regard to their campuses during the time of activities, athletics and events from the time school is out until these events conclude," says Bob Gardner, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations. "Most schools do an excellent job providing security for their students, staff and visitors during the school day. When the academic day ends, the challenges of security grow with the many activities held after school. This summit will bring together the best minds to address this growing concern."

The summit will provide a mechanism to share ideas and explore solutions to implement best practices by addressing designated major safety and security issues. Attendees of the summit will have the opportunity to hear from top safety experts and participate in moderated discussions on issues such as gameday activities, emergency operations planning, identifying threats and hazards, safety and security staff training, facilities design/environment and building safety and security-aware culture.

A second edition of the "Best Practices Guide" for interscholastic athletics and afterschool activities will result from the summit and will be unveiled at the National Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition in Phoenix, July 12-14.

"To continue to develop and enhance a comprehensive set of best practices, we need a diverse group of school personnel in attendance," says NCS4 director Lou Marciani. "Whether a school is located in an urban setting or in a rural area, this event will provide a mechanism for safety and security officials to learn from one another and for the first time have a set of best practices to reduce risk at their school programs."


This article originally appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Gameday with the title "Implementing best practices and improving afterschool safety"