Creating an Emergency Operations Plan is an Important Step Schools Can Take to Prepare for Potential Emergencies

On every school day, schools are entrusted to provide a safe educational environment to around 55 million elementary and secondary students.  Part 2 of our series for upcoming National Preparedness Month relates to an important step schools can take to plan for potential emergencies: Creating an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP).

In June of this year, a valuable resource was published, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students, Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans, Washington, DC, 2013.

This 72 page guide is broken down into 4 sections:

1.  The principles of school emergency management planning.

2.  A process for developing, implementing, and continually refining a school EOP with community partners (e.g., first responders and emergency management personnel) at the school building level.

3.  A discussion of the form, function, and content of school EOPs.

4.  “A Closer Look,” which considers key topics that support school emergency planning, including addressing an active shooter, school climate, psychological first aid, and information-sharing.

This guide offers a traditional format that can be customized to meet an individual school’s needs, and the format has 3 major sections: The Basic Plan, Functional Annexes, and Threat- and Hazard-Specific Annexes.

The Functional Annexes covers many specific topics that includes, among others, the Communications and Warning Annex. This Annex includes communication and coordination during emergencies and disasters, as well as communicating emergency protocols before and after an emergency.

There were several things they recommend the planning team consider, including:

  • How the school’s communications system integrates into the local disaster and response law enforcement communication networks.

  • How to make sure appropriate staff members can operate communications equipment.

  • How the school will communicate with students, families and the broader community before, during, and after an emergency.

  • How impacts on students will be communicated to the community, including the impact on activities related to the school but not necessarily at school or during normal school hours.

  • How the school will ensure effective communication with people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.

The lessons that have been learned from past school emergencies underscore how important it is to prepare school administrators, as well as first responders to implement an EOP. By having a school security plan in place to help safeguard students and staff, schools can play a pivotal role in taking preventative measures to stop an emergency event from happening, or reduce the impact of an incident.

Visit the following link to read the entire Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans

If you would like to see how Regroup’s cost-effective Emergency Notification System with real-time, two-way communication capabilities can play a crucial part in your organization’s Emergency Operations Plan, as well as streamline Day-to-Day communications please call us at (775) GRO-UP10 or REGISTER HERE for a customized complimentary online demonstration.