Course 575 - School Safety: Crisis Planning

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Mitigation and Prevention

Crisis

Introduction

Schools do not have any control over some of the hazards that may impact them, such as an earthquake or plane crashes. However, they can take precautions to either minimize or even eliminate such hazards. For example, schools in earthquake-prone areas can secure bookshelves and train students and staff on what to do during a tremor.

School safety and emergency management experts often use the terms mitigation and prevention differently. Crises experts suggest schools should consider the full range of what they can do to avoid or lessen the impact of crises. Here are a few important ideas:

  • assessing and addressing the safety and integrity of a facility (window seals, HVAC systems, building structure)
  • security (functioning locks and controlled access to the school)
  • culture and climate of the schools (policies and curricula)

School Administrator Duties

Mitigation and prevention require school administrators to take inventory of the dangers in the school and community. It also means they will need to identify how to prevent and reduce injury and property damage. For example:

  • Establishing access control procedures and providing IDs for students and staff may prevent an intruder from coming onto school grounds.
  • Conducting hurricane drills can reduce the likelihood of student and staff injuries because they’ll know what to do beforehand.
  • Planning responses to and training for incidents involving hazardous materials is important for schools near highways.

Administrators can use community resources to help in the processes above. Firefighters, police, public works staff, facilities managers, and the district’s insurance manager can all help conduct a hazard assessment. You will be able to use the information in the assessment to help identify problems to address in the preparedness process

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Mitigation Planning

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says, “The goal of mitigation is to decrease the need for a response as opposed to simply increasing response capability.” Mitigating emergencies is also important from a legal perspective. For example, if a school, district, or state does not take all the necessary actions to prevent an emergency, it could be vulnerable to a negligence suit. It is important to make sure the building is up to local, state, and federal codes.

Planning

Prevention Planning

Creating a safe learning environment should not be new to any school district. Identifying students, and sometimes staff, who may pose a danger to either themselves or each other is called “threat assessment.”

Many schools have programs in place that are aimed to prevent children from initiating harmful behaviors. Social problem-solving for life skills programs, anti-bullying programs, and school-wide discipline efforts are common throughout the United States. The staff in charge of prevention in a school, such as counselors, teachers, health professionals, and administrators, should be part of the crisis planning team.

Action Steps

Parking Lots

There are few things to be aware of when looking at mitigation and prevention programs at your school. Below are some suggestions.

Know the school building. Look at potential hazards on campus and conduct regular safety audits of the building. Be sure to include driveways, parking lots, playgrounds, outside structures, and even fencing.

Know the community. Mitigation requires assessment of local threats. Make sure you work with the local emergency management director to assess the surrounding hazards. This assessment includes the identification and assessment of the probability of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornados, or earthquakes, and industrial and/or chemical accidents. Make sure you know the location of major transportation routes and installations. For example, is the school near an airport?

Bring together regional, local, and school leaders. Since mitigation and prevention are community activities, leadership and support of these activities are necessary to make sure the right people are planning.

Make regular school safety and security efforts a normal part of mitigation and prevention practices. Look at the comprehensive school safety plan and its needs to identify what types of accidents are common in the school.

Establish clear lines of communication. Mitigation and prevention planning requires agencies and organizations to work closely together and share important information. In addition to communications within the planning team, outside communications with families and the larger community are important as well. This conveys a visible message that schools and local governments are working together to ensure public safety. Press releases from the governor and chief state school officer that discuss the importance of crisis planning can help open the channels of communication with the public.

Instructions

Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. Identifying students and staff who may pose a threat to themselves or each other is called _____.

2. The goal of mitigation is to _____ the need for a response.

3. Which answer below is listed as the most important reason for a school district or state take all the necessary steps to prevent an emergency?

4. Which of the following staff should be in charge of crisis prevention in a school?

5. Agencies and organizations should work together and share important information.


Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.