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Districts get ready for another school year with preventive PACE training

The approach of a new school year is always a busy time for the risk management staff of Property and Casualty Coverage for Education (PACE). 

During July and August, the six department staff conducted dozens of trainings throughout Oregon as districts readied for classes.

"The goal for most of the trainings is to educate our members on the liability exposures to them and to help them find solutions to prevent and/or mitigate exposures to individuals, districts and the entire insurance pool," said Scott Neufeld, PACE's director of risk management.

One of the most popular sessions, he said, is training in CPR, first aid and the use of defibrillators. Another popular training focuses on student and/or playground supervision.

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Troy DeYoung, a PACE risk management consultant, trains teachers and administrators in student supervision at Renaissance Public Academy, a Molalla charter school.

Troy DeYoung, a PACE risk management consultant, did a supervision training last month for two administrators and six teachers at Renaissance Public Academy, a grade 4-12 charter school in Molalla. DeYoung first showed the group some graphic representations of claims paid by PACE. Supervision issues are generally high-frequency but low-severity claims.
 
"The No. 1 allegation is lack of or inappropriate supervision," he said. "With proper supervision we can prevent a lot of claims from happening."
 
The basic expectation from parents, he said, is that their children will be returned in the same or better shape. Insurance shields school personnel from liability – provided that they are acting within the course and scope of their duties.
 
Among the issues DeYoung covered were:

  • Good supervisors are consistent. They provide leadership and don't bunch together for conversation.
  • More supervision is needed for younger students, athletic activities, special needs children or where an attractive nuisance is present.
  • Create written policies and adopt contingency plans. For example, if a playground supervisor is unable to communicate via phone or radio, a simple colored piece of paper sent to the office with a child can indicate an emergency has arisen.

Some pitfalls to avoid:

  • Taking an active part in strenuous activities. "Some of our worst workers comp claims are supervisors playing dodgeball and blowing out a knee," he said.
  • Transporting students in personal vehicles.
  • Leaving students unsupervised or watching each other.

 "Students like pushing boundaries, to see what they can get away with," DeYoung said.

 Instructors should stay visible, move around often and scan the room regularly. 

Teresa Campbell, the school's principal, said August was the perfect time for a refresher course on supervision.
  
"We've got some new teachers, and they've all been gone for the summer," she said. "We're here to make sure they are looking for safety opportunities."

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 Troy DeYoung, PACE risk management consultant