School Emergency Operations Planning
As schools gear up for another year, they need to review and update their emergency operations plan (school EOP). Several resources are available to aid this process, including those through SchoolSafety.gov and the U.S. Department of Education.
Below are some tips to consider while creating or revising your school EOP. School administrators should recognize that no two educational institutions are alike, and each plan will need to be tailored to each school’s needs.
Emergency Operations Planning Steps
The U.S. Department of Education has outlined six crucial steps in the planning process in its Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans. For in-depth descriptions of each step, consult the linked document.
Step 1: Form a Collaborative Planning Team
This aspect of emergency operations planning consists of finding a core planning team and building a common framework. The team members should include school personnel, parent and student representatives, community partners and individuals/organizations serving the interests of diverse students. If this stage, you can define roles and responsibilities and determine your meeting schedule.
Step 2: Understand the Situation
In this step, the planning team can use their knowledge, expertise and research to identify threats and hazards and assess the risks each poses. The team can also prioritize the risks to decide which situations the plan will directly address. Utilizing a table or rating scale can aid in this process.
Step 3: Determine Goals and Objectives
Step 3 calls for the planning team to establish goals and objectives for each threat or hazard addressed in the school EOP. Goals typically consist of general statements that describe desired outcomes before, during and after a threat or hazard. They help measure success and allow for the team to note when major activities are finished. Objectives are generally specific and measurable actions needed to accomplish the goals. Often, several objectives support a single goal.
Step 4: Develop a Plan (Identifying Courses of Action)
The next step involves developing the plan by identifying courses of action to achieve your (step 3) objectives. These may include the who, what, where, when, why and how statements. The actions must maintain compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and address language access concerns for individuals with limited English proficiency.
Step 5: Prepare, Review and Approve the Plan
After step 4, the planning team can create a draft of the school EOP with supporting graphics; revise the plan and ensure compliance with applicable laws; seek and obtain official approval; and disseminate the plan to leadership and community partners with responsibilities or roles within the plan. It is also beneficial to have a record of everyone that received a copy of the document.
Step 6: Implement and Maintain the Plan
After completing the first five steps, plan implementation and maintenance can begin. This may involve trainings and exercises. It is also critical to regularly review the plan and ensure the most current version is available and sent to stakeholders and community partners.
There is no one-size-fits-all for emergency operations planning, but these steps can help provide a general framework as you begin planning for the upcoming school year.
This blog is intended for informational and educational use only. It is not exhaustive and should not be construed as legal advice. Please contact your insurance professional for further information.