Does Your Child’s School Have an Adequate Emergency Plan?
When you send your children to school, you likely assume they will be safe on campus, under the care of responsible adults. While this may be true on a day-by- day basis, will your child’s school react appropriately in the event of an emergency? Emergency plans are vital to student safety. Every parent deserves the right to feel confident sending children to school. Find out your child’s school’s emergency plan so you can enjoy peace of mind.
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to seek answers from authorities at your child’s school. All schools should have precise, organized emergency plans that detail how staff will respond to and recover from a crisis. The school should have contingencies for every type of emergency, from a natural disaster to an unwelcome stranger on campus. Many schools have plans readily accessible to parents who inquire. The Riverside County Office of Education, for example, has information on its website updated in real time in case of an emergency.
If teachers and faculty hesitate to tell you the general emergency plan, consider contacting someone higher up. School officials may beat around the bush if they do not have solid emergency plans or if they do not have a safety coordinator. In other cases, schools may simply want to refrain from sharing all components of a safety plan with parents to keep the information secure. Gather as much information about the school’s emergency plans of action as possible, and then assess the plan according to national standards.
What Should a School’s Emergency Plan Include?
Next, compare the details of the emergency plan your child’s school gives you with what constitutes an adequate plan. Emergency preparedness depends on the specific elements of a crisis response plan. A school’s plan should include contact information for all parents, means of communication, and a campus evacuation route. While most schools have safety plans for every school day, they also need heightened security level plans. These plans must include security checks, strict guidelines for where field trips may go, and additional supervision during class changes.
A good emergency plan is flexible, allowing for a wide range of potential emergencies. In general, an emergency plan should include procedures for a safe lockdown of the school, a shelter-in- place system, and evacuation procedures. Every school should designate appropriate evacuation sites and train personnel to get children to these sites safely during a crisis. Schools should keep highly organized plans, with specific checklists for different disaster scenarios.
Schools should also include plans for a response team after a crisis. There should be a crisis response team on campus, composed of school nurses, counselors, and psychologists. The response team should step in after a real-life emergency and offer the students and faculty counseling as needed. The school should review each of its emergency plans at least once every 12 months, and train school crisis teams efficiently. Schools should conduct emergency drills periodically to test the faculty’s reaction to an alarm.
These drills typically include:
- How to evacuate in a number of scenarios
- How to stay safe from acts of nature, such as flooding or severe storms
- Shelter-in- place drills in case of hazardous materials or contaminates
- Lockdown drills in case of an armed intruder or internal threat
Your child may have specific needs that the school does not currently include in its emergency plans. Inform your child’s school of any such needs so it can properly provide help to your child in a crisis. School administrators should welcome your help and take any suggestions you provide into consideration. The main goal should be to keep all children safe in any type of emergency.