Schools

Schools and Education Facilities


Each day, our nation’s public and private schools are entrusted to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for children, students, faculty and staff. Faced with emergencies ranging from active shooter situations to fires, tornadoes, floods and pandemic influenza, this is no easy task. Many of these emergencies occur with little to no warning; therefore, it is critical for the schools in our community to plan ahead to help ensure the safety and general welfare of all members of the school. By having plans in place to keep students and staff safe, schools play a key role in taking preventative and protective measures to stop an emergency from occurring or reduce the impact of an incident.

FEMA provides planning tools, Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Institutions of Higher Education and Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans for schools to use as they begin preparing for emergencies. For planning to be effective, all hazards and emergencies should be considered. School administration should discuss the planning process with the students and staff to allow for staff engagement and involvement.

Plan to Keep Educating

  • Establish a planning and safety team within your school and/or district
  • Include local emergency management officials and community partners
  • Identify the hazards that could impact the school and/or district
  • Be aware of major thoroughfares that may carry hazardous materials
  • Allow for staff members to be involved in the planning process
  • Practice plans, drills and exercises to identify areas needing improvement. Drills to practice include:
    • Bus evacuation
    • Fire
    • Lockdown
    • Tornado
  • Encourage staff members to discuss drills and exercises with students on a regular basis
  • Be aware of students with functional and access needs who may need extra care during an emergency or evacuation
  • Have clearly marked exits and evacuation routes
  • Communicate information with staff and students in advance to avoid confusion
  • Exercise under different and non-ideal conditions (e.g., time of day, weather)

Protect and Preserve Your School

  • Discuss how plans and procedures will be modified, if needed, and specify who has the responsibility for modifying the plan
  • Meet regularly as a leadership team to evaluate plans and discuss current issues in the school and/or district
  • Conduct CPR / AED and First Aid trainings
  • Review and update insurance policies
  • Prepare for utility disruptions and outages, and plan for alternate sources
  • Protect your facilities and buildings
  • Protect important data and technological infrastructure