FEMA issues Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans

8 Jul

As the Sandy Hook massacre demonstrated, unfortunately, schools have to prepare for school violence and school emergencies. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides the following statistics in School Violence: Data & Statistics:

Fact Sheets
Understanding School Violence Fact Sheet  [PDF 254 KB]
This fact sheet provides an overview of school violence.
Behaviors that Contribute to Violence on School Property  [PDF 92k]
This fact sheet illustrates the trends in violence-related behaviors among youth as assessed by CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). YRBSS monitors health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among young people in the United States, including violence.
Understanding Youth Violence  [PDF 313KB]
This fact sheet provides an overview of youth violence.
Youth Violence: Facts at a Glance  [PDF 128KB]
This fact sheet provides up-to-date data and statistics on youth violence.
Data Sources
School Associated Violent Death Study
CDC has been collecting data on school-associated violent deaths since 1992. This data system, which was developed in partnership with the Departments of Education and Justice, monitors school-associated violent deaths at the national level. Information is collected from media databases, police, and school officials. A case is defined as a fatal injury (e.g., homicide or suicide) that occurs (1) on school property; (2) on the way to/from school; or (3) during or on the way to/from a school sponsored event. Only violent deaths associated with U.S. elementary and secondary schools, public and private, are included.  Data obtained from this study play an important role in monitoring and assessing national trends in school-associated violent deaths, and help to inform efforts to prevent fatal school violence.
Indicators of School Crime and Safety
The U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice publish a report on school crime and student safety each year. The report provides the most recent data available from many independent sources, including findings from national surveys of students, teachers, and principals. The report covers topics such as victimization, teacher injury, bullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, and student use of drugs and alcohol. The indicators of crime and safety are compared across different population subgroups and over time. Data on crimes that occur away from school are also offered as a point of comparison where available.
School Health Policies and Programs Study
The School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS) is the largest, most comprehensive assessment of school health policies and programs. It is conducted at state, district, school, and four classroom levels across the country. The CDC-sponsored study provides data to help improve school health policies and programs. SHPPS is conducted every six years; the first administration was in 1994 and the most recent, in 2006. The study assesses eight components of school health programs at the elementary, middle/junior, and senior high school levels that are related to adolescent risk behaviors, including violence. These components are health education; physical education; health services; mental health and social services; school policy and environment; food services; faculty and staff health promotion; and family and community involvement.
Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System
CDC monitors risk behaviors, such as violence, that contribute to the leading causes of death among youth in the United States. CDC administers a nationwide survey every two years in public and private high schools so investigators can examine behaviors related to fighting, weapon carrying, bullying, dating and sexual violence, and suicide.
Youth Violence National and State Statistics at a Glance
This web site provides statistics that illustrate trends and patterns in youth violence. Users will find national and state-level data on youth homicide, nonfatal assaults, and violent crime arrests.
References
1.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. School-associated student homicides—United States, 1992–2006. MMWR 2008;57(02):33–36.
http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/schoolviolence/data_stats.html

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans.

Jaclyn Zubrzycki and Nirvi Shah write about FEMA’s guidelines for emergencies in schools in the Education Week article, Feds’ Advice on School Intruders Worries Some Experts:

New guidelines from the Obama administration for planning for emergencies at schools following the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., touch on everything from school design and storm shelters to planning emergency drills and balancing privacy and safety.
But one facet of the plan, released June 18, is on active-shooting situations, and some of the recommendations in those scenarios make school safety experts nervous—namely, a suggestion that school employees try to fight an intruder when given no other choice.
While the White House document says this should be done as a last resort, that message is easily lost, said Michael Dorn, the executive director of the Atlanta-based Safe Havens International, which advises schools on safety and emergency planning. In his experience, when school employees are given the idea that in rare circumstances, fighting or disarming a shooter is an option, it’s the only thing that comes to mind for far less serious scenarios. In drills, school employees have become so focused on fighting a shooter they have forgotten to take the basic step of locking their classroom doors.
“Though [school shootings] are catastrophic, they’re rare,” Mr. Dorn said.
The new guidelines were written jointly by the U.S. departments of Education, Homeland Security, Justice, and Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
What’s Inside
President Barack Obama promised the agencies would join forces on the advice as part of a larger set of promises and recommendations he made in January on curbing gun violence. The 75-page guide deals with prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery from technological, human-caused, natural, and biological threats.
A student helps block the classroom door with furniture during a mock lockdown drill in January at Moody High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. “This is our first time empowering [students] not to be victims,” said Principal Sandra Clement of the drill.
—Rachel Denny Clow/Corpus Christi Caller-Times/AP
The document is meant to be a guide and contains no mandates for schools. It compiles lessons and best practices from agencies and schools that have had to cope with various emergencies in the past and from previous federal guidance on school emergency planning.
The publication details a six-part process for schools looking to develop emergency plans: forming a collaborative team, understanding threats, determining goals and objectives, developing specific courses of action, reviewing plans, and implementing and maintaining the plan. Schools are encouraged to reach out to other local agencies as they assess the threats they face and their capacity to respond. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/07/10/36safety.h32.html?tkn=UPTFcbIk8VXWICr054xiiTeDXhOZPalcsoT0&cmp=clp-edweek

Citation:

Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans  [open pdf – 2MB]
“Each school day, our nation’s schools are entrusted to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for approximately 55 million elementary and secondary school students1in public and nonpublic schools. Families and communities expect schools to keep their children and youths safe from threats (human-caused emergencies such as crime and violence) and hazards (natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and accidents). In collaboration with their local government and community partners, schools can take steps to plan for these potential emergencies through the creation of a school Emergency Operations Plan (school EOP). Lessons learned from school emergencies highlight the importance of preparing school officials and first responders to implement emergency operations plans. 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. Although schools are not traditional response organizations, when a school-based emergency occurs, school personnel respond immediately. They provide first aid, notify response partners, and provide instructions before first responders arrive. They also work with their community partners, i.e., governmental organizations that have a responsibility in the school emergency operations plan to provide a cohesive, coordinated response. Community partners include first responders (law enforcement officers, fire officials, and emergency medical services personnel) as well as public and mental health entities. We recommend that planning teams responsible for developing and revising school EOPs use this document to guide their efforts. It is recommended that districts and individual schools compare existing plans and processes against the content and processes outlined in this guide. To gain the most from it, users should read through the entire document prior to initiating their planning efforts and then refer back to it throughout the planning process.”
Publisher:
United States. Federal Emergency Management Agency
Date:
2013-06
Copyright:
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
U.S. Department of Homeland Security: http://www.dhs.gov/
Format:
pdf
Media Type:
application/pdf
URL:
https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=739248

School EOP dissects the guide in High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans:

Lessons learned from school emergencies highlight the importance of preparing school officials and first responders to implement emergency operations plans. 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. Although schools are not traditional response organizations, when a school-based emergency occurs, school personnel respond immediately. They provide first aid, notify response partners, and provide instructions before first responders arrive. They also work with their community partners, i.e., governmental organizations that have a responsibility in the school emergency operations plan to provide a cohesive, coordinated response. Community partners include first responders (law enforcement officers, fire officials, and emergency medical services personnel) as well as public and mental health entities.
We recommend that planning teams responsible for developing and revising school EOPs use this document to guide their efforts. It is recommended that districts and individual schools compare existing plans and processes against the content and processes outlined in this guide. To gain the most from it, users should read through the entire document prior to initiating their planning efforts and then refer back to it throughout the planning process.
The guide is organized in four sections:
1.The principles of school emergency management planning.
2.A process for developing, implementing, and continually refining a school EOP with community partners (e.g., first responders and emergency management personnel) at the school building level.
3.A discussion of the form, function, and content of school EOPs.
4.“A Closer Look,” which considers key topics that support school emergency planning, including addressing an active shooter, school climate, psychological first aid, and information-sharing.
As the team that developed this guide began its work to respond to the president’s call for model emergency management plans for schools, it became clear that there is a need to help ensure that our schools’ emergency planning efforts are aligned with the emergency planning practices at the national, state, and local levels. Recent developments have put a new emphasis on the process for developing EOPs.
National preparedness efforts, including planning, are now informed by Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8, which was signed by the president in March 2011 and describes the nation’s approach to preparedness. This directive represents an evolution in our collective understanding of national preparedness, based on the lessons learned from terrorist attacks, hurricanes, school incidents, and other experiences.
PPD-8 defines preparedness around five mission areas: Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery.
Prevention,2 for the purposes of this guide, means the capabilities necessary to avoid, deter, or stop an imminent crime or threatened or actual mass casualty incident. Prevention is the action schools take to prevent a threatened or actual incident from occurring.
Protection means the capabilities to secure schools against acts of violence and manmade or natural disasters. Protection focuses on ongoing actions that protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, networks, and property from a threat or hazard.
Mitigation means the capabilities necessary to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an event or emergency. In this document, “mitigation” also means reducing the likelihood that threats and hazards will happen.
Response means the capabilities necessary to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in an unpreventable way; establish a safe and secure environment; save lives and property; and facilitate the transition to recovery.
Recovery means the capabilities necessary to assist schools affected by an event or emergency in restoring the learning environment.
Emergency management officials and emergency responders engaging with schools are familiar with this terminology. These mission areas generally align with the three timeframes associated with an incident: before, during, and after.
The majority of Prevention, Protection, and Mitigation activities generally occur before an incident, although these three mission areas do have ongoing activities that can occur throughout an incident. Response activities occur during an incident, and Recovery activities can begin during an incident and occur after an incident. To help avoid confusion over terms and allow for ease of reference, this guide uses “before,” “during,” and “after.”
As schools plan for and execute response and recovery activities through the emergency operations plan, they should use the concepts and principles of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). One component of NIMS is the Incident Command System (ICS), which provides a standardized approach for incident management, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity. By using ICS during an incident, schools will be able to more effectively work with the responders in their communities. For more information on ICS and NIMS, please see the Resources section.
While some of the vocabulary, processes, and approaches discussed in this guide may be new to the education community, they are critical. The vocabulary, processes, and approaches are critical to the creation of emergency management practices and plans that are integrated with the efforts of first responders and other key stakeholders, and that incorporate everything possible to keep children safe. If a school system has an existing plan, revising and adapting that plan using the principles and process described in this guide will help ensure alignment with the terminology and approaches used across the nation.
http://schooleop.org/

Unfortunately, schools are forced to think about and prepare for the worst and the unthinkable.

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