Emergency Operations Planning
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The Department of Education believes school districts must be adequately prepared for a variety of emergencies that threaten the young lives of Iowa students each day. The Department provides resources from Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools – Technical Assistance (REMS-TA) that assists public school districts and non-public schools with developing high-quality school emergency operations plans (EOPs). The process for developing EOPs involves working collaboratively with district and community partners to assure the developed plans are complete and reflect actual capabilities and available resources. It is critical to involve district staff, local emergency management staff, first responders, and public and mental health officials during the planning process to integrate the district plan with community, regional, and state plans. The school’s EOP should provide an overview of the school’s approach to operations before, during, and after an emergency.
(Click the link above for registration information to install the toolkit at the local level.)
The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center has created an Emergency Management Virtual Toolkit for K-12 schools to disseminate consistent information, guidance, trainings, and tools on school emergency management.
The toolkit, which is divided into three sections—develop high-quality emergency operations plans (EOPs), engage youth and the community and connect with other emergency management practitioners—provides users with an opportunity to populate their own education agency’s website or emergency management webpage with the latest Federal school emergency management training and technical assistance resources and information for schools in their state or district.
The Iowa School EOP planning template and the FEMA Sample School EOP planning template are provided here to assist you with your efforts. The content of the Iowa template has been developed from the comments received during the workshops, directions provided in the Guide to Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans, the FEMA Sample School Emergency Operations Plan, and from nationally identified best practices.
The text in italics provides additional information or instructions on how to complete the associated section of the plan. The regular text is provided as sample language to assist your planning team in better understanding the type of information needed in each section. You are free to use the language provided, but I must strongly stress that simply inserting your district’s name in place of bold text will not result in a truly comprehensive plan, nor will it accurately reflect a plan specific to your district. This should be a collaborative process focused on the needs of the district and school sites.
Iowa School Safety
Every school in Iowa should have a school safety plan in case of a natural disaster, medical emergencies, bomb threats and other situations. Though not mandatory in Iowa, leaders in education, law enforcement, fire safety and homeland security agree that school safety plans are important.
The following agencies and associations worked together to create safety resources for schools: Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department of Public Safety - Intelligence Fusion Center, State of Iowa Fire Marshal's Office, School Administrators of Iowa, Iowa State Education Association, Iowa Association of School Boards, Heartland Area Education Agency.
The guide below serves as a template for creating local school safety plans. Flip charts offer how-to advice for educators about an emergency or how to react to one. A self assessment and threat report form are also available for school use.
School leaders are encouraged make these plans their own. The goal is to get all stakeholders on the same page when it comes to school safety.
ABC's of School Safety - Resource from the American Association of School Administrators.
NASP School Safety and Crisis Resources - The National Association of School Psychologists has assembled quality resources to promote the ability of children and youth to cope with traumatic or unsettling events.
National Crime Prevention Council - State Centers for Safe Schools - This link takes to a listing of all of State Centers for Safe Schools. Although Iowa doesn't have a Center of its own and some of the Centers are more active than others, the Centers share a common mission: to provide school districts and staff, parents, and students with training, tools, and technical assistance to enhance the safety and security of America's schools.
Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center (REMS TA) - Supports schools, school districts, and institutions of higher education, with their community partners, in the development of high-quality emergency operations plans and comprehensive emergency management planning efforts.
REMS TA Center Virtual Trainings - A diverse set of trainings, including webinars and self-paced online courses on school emergency management available at no cost to schools. Certificates are issued electronically by the U.S. Department of Education.
Emergency Management Institute - Offers self-paced courses designed for people who have emergency management responsibilities and the general public. All are offered free-of-charge to those who qualify for enrollment.
The following courses are recommended for those interested in school emergency response planning:
- E361: Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools (four-day in-person course)
- IS-360: Preparing for Mass Casualty Incidents: A Guide for Schools, Higher Education, and Houses of Worship (online independent study course)
- IS-362.A: Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools (online independent study course)
- IS-100.SCA: Introduction to the Incident Command System for Schools (online independent study course)
- IS-700.A: National Incident Management System (NIMS) An Introduction (online independent study course)
- Preparing Parents for School Emergencies - An online presentation designed to provide parents of children in K-12 schools with an understanding of why schools develop all-hazards plans.
- School Shooters: An Awareness Program for School Staff - An online presentation designed to provide school staff members with a basic awareness of their responsibilities in preparing for and responding to an active shooter situation in their school.
Spring 2016 Emergency Operations Planning Workshops
The spring workshops focused on tabletop exercises as an integral part for supporting school emergency operations planning. Tabletop exercises are discussion-based sessions where team members meet in an informal setting to discuss their roles during an emergency and their responses to a particular emergency situation. These exercises are designed to:
- Increase understanding of the roles and responsibilities in a school emergency.
- Improve coordination between internal and external teams, organizations, and community response partners.
- Assess the capabilities of available resources.
- Test or validate recently changed procedures or plans.
- Increase understanding of the plan content and process for developing fully comprehensive plans.
Scenarios used at the workshops: