K-12 District Emergency Management Planning K-12 District Emergency Management Planning

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Task 2: Evaluate the Risks and Vulnerabilities Posed by Threats and Hazards

To evaluate each hazard and threat, schools must consider them in terms of the risk criteria: magnitude, duration, probability, or frequency of occurrence; warning time; and the potential cascading effects of a threat or hazard. Additionally, schools should imagine the many ways an incident could unfold, i.e., how different variables could affect the different risk criteria.

District’s Role

Districts can guide and support schools in evaluating the risks and vulnerabilities posed by the threats and hazards that each school has identified. This involves consolidating information from assessments gathered by each school into a usable format. Below are two strategies for evaluating a threat or hazard, which districts may wish to share with school core planning teams.

Scenario-based planning is one strategy that the district may wish to share with its school core planning teams. Using this approach, planning teams depict scenarios of each threat and hazard and the many ways a possible incident could unfold. In planning for each threat or hazard, the school core planning teams should be instructed to apply the planning principles. For example, when applying the principle of “all settings, all times,” the team should plan for the threat as it relates to multiple settings (e.g., in classrooms, nonacademic settings, athletic fields, school buses, or field trips). More specifically, the plan should provide for the whole school community, which includes those with access and functional needs. See details on “scenario-based planning” in Step 4, Task 1.

Using a mathematical approach, schools assign a number (e.g., on a scale of 1 to 4) to different categories of information for each of the risk criteria used in the ranking scheme. Use the Risk Assessment Worksheet to evaluate threats and hazards using this mathematical approach.

Sample Risk Assessment Worksheet

Hazard Probability Magnitude Warning Duration Risk Priority
Fire 4. Highly likely
3. Likely
2. Possible
1. Unlikely
4. Catastrophic
3. Critical
2. Limited
1. Negligible
4. Minimal
3. 6–12 hrs.
2. 12–24 hrs.
1. 24+ hrs.
4. 12+ hrs.
3. 6–12 hrs.
2. 3–6 hrs.
1. < 3 hrs.
  • High
  • Medium
  • Low
Hazmat spill outside the school 4. Highly likely
3. Likely
2. Possible
1. Unlikely
4. Catastrophic
3. Critical
2. Limited
1. Negligible
4. Minimal
3. 6–12 hrs.
2. 12–24 hrs.
1. 24+ hrs.
4. 12+ hrs.
3. 6–12 hrs.
2. 3–6 hrs.
1. < 3 hrs.
  • High
  • Medium
  • Low

At this stage of planning, we suggest districts encourage school core planning teams to err on the side of caution in evaluating risks and identifying vulnerabilities. As teams hypothesize the possible effects and impacts, there will be a variety of possible outcomes. To increase preparedness and to help ensure safety, teams should evaluate and plan for a threat’s worst possible outcome.

Districts should consider the following when developing their policies and procedures:

  • To what degree the district will support and/or train schools on evaluating risks and vulnerabilities of the identified threats and hazards
  • The extent to which schools or the district will assume the responsibility for evaluating the risks and vulnerabilities of the identified threats and hazards
  • To what degree the district will contribute information and guidance on factors to help evaluate the risks and vulnerabilities of the identified threats and hazards
  • The type, format, and content of the strategy (e.g., scenario-based planning or mathematical model) used to evaluate risks and vulnerabilities posed by the identified threats and hazards
  • The extent to which all schools in the district will use the same strategy for evaluating risks and vulnerabilities of the identified threats and hazards

School’s Role

Based on the policies and procedures established by the district, schools should be able to evaluate their risks and vulnerabilities associated with specific threats and hazards.

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