The following principles are key to developing a comprehensive higher ed emergency operations plan (EOP) that addresses a range of threats and hazards:
The IHE president, chancellor, or provost initiates and supports planning efforts to help ensure engagement from the entire campus community. Since budgetary realities may force campus administrators to make decisions within select fiscal parameters, it is important to have high-level support to provide both political and financial backing to the effort.
Effective planning is built around comprehensive, ongoing assessment of the IHE’s unique physical, social, and environmental characteristics, including the academic programs offered, size and geographic location of the campus, the number and types of buildings and facilities (including athletic, health, and research facilities), the availability of campus and community resources, student demographics, campus law enforcement officers and security personnel, and pertinent physical security information.
The planning process must take into account a wide range of possible threats and hazards that may impact the IHE. Comprehensive IHE emergency management planning considers all threats and hazards throughout the planning process, addressing safety needs before, during, and after an incident.
The “whole IHE community” includes students, staff and visitors, including those with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, those from religiously, racially, and ethnically diverse backgrounds, and people with limited English proficiency.
Higher ed EOPs must account for incidents that may occur at any hour of the day or night, in numerous buildings and off-campus sites or satellite locations, including, but not limited to, laboratories and other facilities that house potentially dangerous materials.
The planning team should raise awareness of the importance of individual preparedness. Students should be informed of the possibility of a prolonged shelter-in-place condition and should understand that they will be responsible for ensuring that they have the necessary supplies, such as access to sufficient medication.
A number of laws at all levels of government may apply to IHEs. For example, the Clery Act includes requirements for emergency response and evacuation procedures, as well as timely warning and emergency notifications.
The recommended process, plan format, and content guidance provided here are flexible enough for use by all IHE emergency planning teams. If a planning team also uses templates, it must first evaluate their usefulness to ensure the tools do not undermine the collaborative initiative and collectively shared plan. There are some jurisdictions that provide templates to IHEs, and these will reflect state and local mandates, as applicable.