December 2023 School Safety Community Bulletin: Events, Opportunities, and Resources

School Safety Events and Opportunities

December 2023

Latest News

Find Resources to Create Safe and Inclusive Learning Environments
In the wake of the October 7 Hamas attacks in Israel and subsequent conflict, many Jewish, Muslim, Israeli, Arab, and Palestinian students report that they feel unsafe at school. hosts a range of resources to support schools and help ensure students are free to learn in a safe, inclusive environment. These include Creating a Safe and Respectful Environment in Our Nation's Classrooms, Preventing and Responding to Bias and Hate Incidents in K-12 Educational Settings: A Toolkit for School and Community Leaders, and Resources Related to Combatting Antisemitism and Islamophobia While Promoting Religious Inclusion in Schools. The White House has also issued a fact sheet on actions being taken to address the rise of reported Antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents at schools. Visit to access additional school climate and violence prevention resources.

Federal Government Announces Partnership to Distribute Free COVID-19 Tests to Schools
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, a division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced a partnership to distribute free COVID-19 tests to schools across the country. In a letter sent to local education agencies by ED, school districts are being encouraged to order tests directly from the federal government. Districts can then distribute these tests for free to students, staff, parents, and school communities, with the expectation that millions of tests will be sent out in the coming months allowing schools to stock nurses’ offices, distribute at events, send tests home with students or parents, and more.

HHS Announces Funding Opportunities to Improve Behavioral Health
HHS, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), announced notices of funding opportunities for grant programs that address behavioral health challenges in local communities by helping organizations implement comprehensive, evidence-based strategies to prevent substance misuse and promote mental health. These grant opportunities include the Children’s Mental Health Initiative, which provides resources to improve the mental health outcomes for children and youth at risk for or who have serious emotional disturbances, and their families.

FCC Proposes Creation of Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program
The Federal Communications Commission proposed the creation of a Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program that would allow the Commission to obtain valuable data concerning the cybersecurity and advanced firewall services that would best help K-12 schools and libraries address the growing cyber threats and attacks against their broadband networks. The proposed pilot program, which calls for an investment of up to $200 million over three years, would be established within the Universal Service Fund, but separate from the Commission’s E-Rate program. In addition, the program would provide funding to eligible K-12 schools and libraries to defray the qualifying costs of receiving the cybersecurity and advanced firewall services needed to protect their E-Rate-funded broadband networks and data from the growing number of school and library-focused cyber events.

SAMHSA Launches Fentanyl Awareness Youth Challenge
SAMHSA issued the FentAlert: Empowering Youth for Safer Choices - SAMHSA Fentanyl Awareness Youth Challenge, which seeks ideas from U.S. youth, aged 14-18, on a community strategy to increase youth awareness, education, and prevention around the dangers of fentanyl, especially the hidden dangers of fake pills and other contaminants that can lead to drug overdose deaths. The top six ideas will be awarded a $5,000 prize each, and up to 25 youth will receive a $2,000 honorable mention prize. Submissions are due February 26.

ED Announces Grants to Expand Full-Service Community Schools
ED announced nearly $74 million in new, five-year Full-Service Community Schools grants to support an additional 30 local educational agencies, nonprofits, and other public or private organizations and institutions of higher education working to expand community schools including by making awards in four new states: Idaho, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio. Community schools collaborate with local non-profits, health providers, private partners, and other agencies to coordinate and deliver services like health care, mental health and nutrition services, afterschool and summer programming, and high-quality early learning programs.

Review Online Safety Resources During Winter Break
School closures during winter break can lead to children and teenagers spending more time online, which can expose them to a range of potential online safety threats and risks. To educate children on the possible dangers of online environments and how they can stay safe in the digital world, access our Online Safety Resources infographic, which outlines tips and resources for parents, guardians, and school communities to help prevent and protect against these threats.

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

Grants and Funding Opportunities

Tribal Cybersecurity Grant Program (Deadline: January 10)

Grants for Expansion and Sustainability of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances (Deadline: February 14)

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (Ongoing)

Project SERV (Ongoing)

Visit the Grants Finder Tool for additional school safety-related funding opportunities.

Events, Webinars, and Conferences

Enhancing School Safety Using Behavioral Threat Assessment (January 9, March 8, May 8) – This virtual training event, hosted by the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC), will highlight the key findings and implications from NTAC’s research on school violence prevention. Attendees will learn about the background, thinking, and behavior of school attackers and how some schools discovered and stopped plots before violence occurred. This training will also provide guidance on how schools may develop or improve existing violence prevention programs utilizing a behavioral threat assessment model.

National Student Privacy & Data Security Winter Webinar Series (January 17 & 31) – These sessions, part of a Winter Webinar Series hosted by ED’s Student Privacy Policy Office, will cover the basics of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and provide training on current data security best practices for education data systems. It will also lead participants through a simulated data breach and explore how to assess online educational technology for privacy protections and general FERPA compliance.

Free to Learn Miniseries (January 17, February 14) – This series, hosted by the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, will offer webinars focusing on evidence-based practices to prevent, address, and ameliorate the effects of bullying, violence and hate while also supporting school safety, school-based mental health, and positive school climates. The series will provide these strategies at the key moments in a student and family’s school experience as they enter the school or classroom, engage with learning and extracurricular activities, navigate circumstances that might result in differences of opinion or conflict, and utilize various supports and opportunities to enhance their school experiences and academic achievement.

Preventing Mass Attacks in Our Communities (February 5, April 4, June 5) – This virtual training event, hosted by NTAC, will cover important findings from NTAC’s research on mass attacks perpetrated in public and semi-public spaces, including businesses, restaurants, bars, retail outlets, houses of worship, schools, open spaces, and more. This training will provide guidance on how communities may develop or improve existing violence prevention programs utilizing a behavioral threat assessment model.

Visit the Events Page for additional school safety-related webinars, conferences, and more.

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School Safety Resources

Child Exploitation Resources

Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers: Protecting Your Kids
This webpage shares advice and information to help protect children from dangers in both the online and offline worlds. It also includes details and contact information to report child abductions and sexual exploitation. 

This webpage provides information about what sextortion is and what parents can do to help prevent and stop it.

Additional School Safety Resources

2023 Resource Package
This resource packet features a collection of infographics and one-pagers released in 2023. It provides high-level strategies, guidance, and resources on a range of school safety topics, including emergency planning, bullying prevention, targeted violence, and mental health.

Families and Caregivers as Partners in School Emergency Management
This fact sheet provides strategies for forming partnerships and communicating with families and guardians, and for including them in efforts to develop, enhance, and maintain high-quality school emergency operations plans.

How to Talk About Mental Health: For Parents and Caregivers of Children
This webpage includes information for parents and guardians on how to talk about mental health with children, potential warning signs that a child may be struggling, and what to do if there are concerns about a child’s behavior.

Social Media Threat Guidance for School Staff and Authorities
This infographic highlights social media threats affecting school districts in the United States, provides mitigation and response measures for social media threats directed at school districts, and connects school safety stakeholders to a suite of tools and resources available to promote a culture of readiness and preparedness.

Visit for additional resources to support school safety and security efforts.

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Department of Education (ED), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) do not endorse any individual, enterprise, product, or service. DHS, ED, DOJ, and HHS do not mandate or prescribe practices, models, or other activities described in this communication. DHS, ED, DOJ, and HHS do not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any information outside of those respective Departments, and the opinions expressed in any of these materials do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of DHS, ED, DOJ, and HHS.