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The Role of Districts in Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans: At a Glance
When our nation’s 55 million K-12 students head to class each day, they should find safe havens for learning, free from threats and hazards. Indeed, a safe and healthy environment is vital to student learning and is necessary for maintaining public trust in our educational system.
Creating such an atmosphere requires collaboration between school officials and their community partners to prepare for and to respond to a threat (a human-caused emergency, such as a crime or violence) or a hazard (a natural disaster, disease outbreak, or accident). To this end, several Federal agencies jointly produced the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans (School Guide) in 2013. The School Guide recommends schools undertake emergency management planning within the context of district, local, regional, state, tribal, and Federal agency emergency planning. The School Guide sets forth planning principles and sequential steps that schools can take to develop emergency operations plans (EOPs), which are critical to preventing emergencies from happening, reducing the impact (should a disaster occur), responding effectively, and facilitating rapid recovery efforts while continuing to protect the whole school community.
This Guide, The Role of Districts in Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans (District Guide), complements the earlier School Guide by recommending specific roles and responsibilities for district-level administrators and staffs. Districts’ recommended responsibilities include the following:
- Coordinating with schools and community partners to make EOPs a collaborative effort and help ensure integration with district, local, regional, state, tribal, and Federal agency EOPs;
- Providing planning parameters for use by schools throughout the entire district, e.g., minimum set of annexes, minimum set of prioritized hazards and threats; and
- Supporting schools at each step as they develop EOPs that address all types of emergencies and are tailored to fit each school’s individual needs.
This Guide presents the same planning principles that underline the planning process in the School Guide. This Guide recommends that districts apply these planning principles and follow the same six-step planning process, completing the tasks associated with each step. The District Guide, however, provides more district-focused information.
This Guide also contains a checklist of activities and responsibilities for districts that allows them to stay on course and track their progress.
We recommend that district-level representatives involved in emergency management familiarize themselves with the School Guide before turning to this District Guide to better understand how they can best assume their complementary role in planning and fulfilling their responsibilities. While diversity exists among school districts (e.g., large, small, urban, suburban, rural) and their resources (including staff size and skills), the process this Guide describes is intended to be flexible enough to accommodate this diversity. A summary of the School Guide is provided in Elements of the School Guide.