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Task 1: Form a School Core Planning Team
To provide support for and guide all building-level school core planning teams, district administrators should first establish a district-level core planning team. Like a school’s core planning team, a school district’s core planning team includes a comprehensive, multidisciplinary team of educational officials and community partners. In addition to having its members serve on school planning teams, a district may often have core planning team members serve as the single point of contact (POC) to individual community partners’ agencies to facilitate the relationship on behalf of the district and its schools. In this role, the district representative may be responsible for sharing common information with all schools and working in partnership with an individual school POC and the partners on a unique issue.
The work of the district-level core planning team is best done before individual schools begin their emergency planning. District administrators can jump-start the planning by developing policies and procedures to guide individual schools in creating their own EOPs. The parameters should provide consistent expectations for schools throughout the district as well as some continuity for all district EOPs. However, the district parameters must also provide enough flexibility for each school to develop emergency plans that address their specific needs.
The district’s core planning team can include administrators; instructional and support staff; food, maintenance, building, and grounds staff; community partners; community organizations; and parents and guardians. Because a district core planning team and a school core planning team are closely intertwined, it is recommended that a member of the district team serve on each school planning team.
The district’s policies and procedures should allow for representatives from a wide range of personnel who also serve on school core planning teams, including (but not limited to) administrators, educators, school psychologists, nurses, facility managers, transportation managers, food service personnel, family services representatives, and representatives from the school district. In order to address specific concerns in the early stages of planning, districts should ensure that school teams involve student and parent representatives; individuals and organizations that serve and represent the interests of persons in the school community with limited English proficiency, with disabilities, and with access and functional needs; and representatives from racial, ethnic, and religious communities.
Key community partners should be represented on both school and district-level planning teams. School teams should include first responders, local emergency management staff, and others with roles and responsibilities in school emergency management before, during, and after an incident. This includes local law enforcement officers, emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, school resource officers (SROs), fire officials, public and mental health practitioners, and local emergency managers. Key partners on the districts’ planning teams may include agency heads or managers, regional entity representatives, or other senior staff (such as directors of community mental health programs, fire services, or law enforcement entities).
Other representatives on school teams may also be needed on an ad-hoc basis to contribute their expertise or resources, develop courses of action, or review certain components of the plan.
Sample Representation on School Core Planning Teams and Ad-Hoc Planning Teams
Examples of school core planning team and ad-hoc members are included below.
- Ad-Hoc Planning Team:
- A representative from the local Federal Burau of Investigation (FBI) office or American Red Cross chapter
- State education agency or department of health representative, who participates as needed
- School Core Planning Team:
- District representative
- School administrator
- School emergency manager
- School nurse
- Student representative
To facilitate ongoing communication, it is advisable for the district to establish a process for conveying essential planning information between and among the district, its schools, and partners. One possible approach is to establish district-level POCs for each community partner, which streamlines the process and decreases the burden for community partners. A variation of this approach is for a district official to coordinate, facilitate, and participate in school-based planning. Another option is for the district to serve as a liaison between its schools and the community partners by connecting the entities to participate on the school core planning team.
District and school core planning teams also may need to coordinate their representatives with community partners. For example, a district core planning team may include agency heads or managers, regional entity representatives, or other senior staff. These can include directors of community public and mental health agencies, fire services, or law enforcement entities. The school core planning team may include program officials from those same agencies. These might be social workers and mental health counselors, public health practitioners, SROs, and city fire personnel. Using this framework, agencies would develop internal communications systems to ensure that leadership and program personnel are apprised of one another’s work.
The district should consider the following when developing policies and procedures:
- Which district representative to assign to each school core planning team
- The nature and extent of a district representative’s participation on each school core planning team
- The recommended size of the school core planning team (small enough to permit close collaboration with first responders and other community partners, yet large enough not to place an undue burden on any single person and to represent the school, its families, and the community)
- Which groups of school personnel, students, families, organizations, and community partners should be represented on the school core planning team
- How appropriate community partners can be connected to each school core planning team
- How school core planning team members, particularly community partners, will be recruited, selected, and represented (districts may want to provide schools with a list of established POCs for organizations relevant to the planning team — for example, the fire department, law enforcement, EMS, and utility companies)
- Establishing formal agreements with community partners (e.g., memoranda of understanding)
- What can be defined as a realistic level of participation by community partners on school core planning teams
- Which local or state community partners should or may be invited to participate on the ad-hoc planning team
The district’s established policies and procedures should enable each of its schools to form a core planning team with a diverse range of members, including school personnel, student and parent representatives, individuals and organizations that serve and represent the interests of the whole school community, and community partners. Additionally, each school should be able to invite additional representatives to participate on the ad-hoc planning team, as needed.