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

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Step 5: Plan Preparation, Review, and Approval

In Step 5, the planning team develops a draft of the school EOP using the courses of action developed in Step 4. In addition, the team reviews the plan, obtains official approval, and shares the plan with community partners such as first responders, local emergency management officials, staff, and stakeholders.

Format the Plan

An effective school EOP is presented in a way that makes it easy for users to find the information they need and that is compatible with local and state plans. This may include using plain language and providing pictures and/or visual cues for key action steps. One traditional format that can be tailored to meet individual school needs includes three major sections: the Basic Plan, Functional Annexes, and Threat- and Hazard-Specific Annexes.

The Basic Plan section of the school EOP provides an overview of the school’s approach to emergency operations. Although the Basic Plan section guides the development of the more operationally oriented annexes, its primary audiences consist of the school, local emergency officials, and the community (as appropriate).

The Functional Annexes section details the goals, objectives, and courses of action of functions (e.g., evacuation, communications, recovery) that apply across multiple threats or hazards. Functional annexes set forth how the school manages a function before, during, and after an emergency.

The Threat- and Hazard-Specific Annexes section specifies the goals, objectives, and courses of action that a school will follow to address a particular type of threat or hazard (e.g., hurricane, active shooter). Threat- and hazard-specific annexes, like functional annexes, set forth how the school manages a function before, during, and after an emergency.

The following functional format can be used for the Functional Annexes section as well as for the Threat- and Hazard-Specific Annexes section. Using the format below and the work the planning team did in Step 4, each function, threat, and hazard will have at least three goals, with one or more objectives for each goal and a course of action for each of the objectives.

  • Title (the function, threat, or hazard)

  • Goal(s)

  • Objective(s)

  • Courses of Action

    (Describe the courses of action you developed in Step 4 in the sequence in which they will occur.)

The different components of each of these three sections. Details on the contents of these three sections can be found under Plan Content.

School EOP Format

Basic Plan
1.Introductory Material 2.4Planning Assumptions
1.1.Promulgation Document and Signatures 3.Concept of Operations
1.2.Approval and Implementation 4.Organization and assignment of responsibilities
1.3.Record of Changes 5.Direction, Control, and Coordination
1.4.Record of Distribution 6.Information Collection, Analysis, and Dissemination
1.5.Table of Contents 7.Training and Exercises
2.Purpose, Scope, Situation Overview, and Assumptions 8.Administration, Finance, and Logistics
2.1.Purpose 9.Plan Development and Maintenance
2.2.Scope 10.Authorities and References
2.3.Situation Overview  
Functional Annexes
NOTE: This is not a complete list, but it is recommended that all EOPs include at least the following annexes:
1.Communications and Warning 6.Family Reunification
2.Evacuation 7.Contnuity of Operations (COOP)
3.Shelter-in-Place 8.Security
4.Lockdown 9.Recovery
5.Accounting for All Persons 10.Public Health, Medical, and Mental Health
Threat- or Hazard-Specific Annexes
NOTE: This is not a complete list. Each school's annexes will vary based on its hazard analysis
1.Hurricane or severe storm 5.Mass Casualty Incident
2.Earthquake 6.Active Shooter
3.Tornado 7.Pandemic or Disease Outbreak
4.Hazardous Materials Incident  

Write the Plan

As the planning team works through the draft, the members add necessary tables, charts, and other supporting graphics. The planning team circulates a draft to obtain the comments of stakeholders that have responsibilities for implementing the plan. Successful plans are written according to the following simple rules.

  1. Summarize important information with checklists and visual aids, such as maps and flowcharts.
  2. Write clearly, using plain language, avoiding jargon, minimizing the use of abbreviations, and using short sentences and the active voice.
  3. Use a logical, consistent structure that makes it easy for readers to grasp the rationale for the sequence of the information and to scan for the information they need.
  4. Provide enough detail to convey an easily understood plan that is actionable. For example, classroom teachers may have a one-page document that covers what they will need to know and do during an emergency, or create flip-charts, posters, or signs giving simple directions. Organize the contents in a way that helps users quickly identify solutions and options. Plans should provide guidance for carrying out common courses of action, through the functional and threat- and hazard-specific annexes, while also staying out of the weeds.
  5. Develop accessible tools and documents. Use appropriate auxiliary aids and services necessary for effective communication, such as accessible websites, digital text that can be converted to audio or Braille, text equivalents for images, and captioning of any audio and audio description of any video content.

Review the Plan

Planners should check the written plan for compliance with applicable laws and for its usefulness in practice. Commonly used criteria can help determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the plan. The following measures can help determine if a plan is of high quality:


A plan is adequate if the plan identifies and addresses critical courses of action effectively, the plan can accomplish the assigned function, and the plan’s assumptions are valid and reasonable.


A plan is feasible if the school can accomplish the assigned function and critical tasks by using available resources within the time contemplated by the plan.


A plan is acceptable if it meets the requirements driven by a threat or hazard, meets cost and time limitations, and is consistent with the law.


A plan is complete if it

  • Incorporates all courses of action to be accomplished for all selected threats and hazards and identified functions;
  • Integrates the needs of the whole school community;
  • Provides a complete picture of what should happen, when, and at whose direction;
  • Estimates time for achieving objectives, with safety remaining as the utmost priority;
  • Identifies success criteria and a desired end state; and
  • Conforms with the planning principles outlined here.

The plan must comply with applicable state and local requirements because these provide a baseline that facilitates both planning and execution.

Approve and Share the Plan

After finalizing the plan, the planning team should present it to the appropriate leadership and obtain official approval of the plan. The team should then share the plan with its community partners who have a responsibility in the plan (e.g., first responders, local emergency management staff) and additional stakeholders that have a role in the plan, including relevant district, local, regional, and/or state agencies with which the plan will be coordinated. The plan should also be shared with other organizations that may use the school building(s).

Schools should be careful to protect the plan from those who are not authorized to have it and should consider how they will secure documents shared electronically. Law enforcement agencies and first responders have a secured, Web-accessible site available to house copies of plans, building schematics, phone contact sheets, and other important details that round out planning. Schools must comply with state and local open records laws in storing and protecting the plan.

The team should maintain a record of the people and organizations that receive a copy of the plan.

Step 5 Outcome

After completing Step 5, the planning team will have a final school EOP.

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