Risk Management Roundup, July 2021
Fund members have a vested interest in collaborating to manage risk. We are excited to share positive news from your peers across the state, along with risk management headlines that could impact your team.
Midlothian ISD to serve as face of Raptor marketing campaign
Keeping a cool head is critical during hurricanes, tornadoes, active shooter situations, and other emergencies. Midlothian ISD School Resource Officer Commander Tim Hicks says emergency response procedures have to be second nature for staff and students.
“If you haven’t trained it, you’re going to start to panic,” said Hicks. “Everybody’s got to have a role and task, and they have to know exactly what they’re doing. They execute their role without thinking about it.”
With that in mind, Midlothian ISD worked with city first responders to conduct a tornado tabletop exercise last spring, according to Focus Daily News. As part of the exercise, the district used Raptor emergency management software to reunite students with their parents.
Raptor representatives took video footage of the exercise. The company will use the video in its national marketing campaign.
What are your drill responsibilities?
Schools are required to conduct drills each semester of the school year, not to exceed eight drills each semester and 16 drills for the entire school year, according to the Texas Education Agency.
As part of the post-drill process, encourage staff, students, and other participants to provide feedback anonymously or through surveys. Use the feedback to identify gaps in your emergency operations plan. From there, develop a corrective action plan that drives continuous improvement.
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School district to disconnect $360,000 worth of bipolar ionization units
A New Jersey school district is disconnecting 500 needlepoint bipolar ionization air treatment units after learning about a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The suit alleges the units, manufactured by Global Plasma Solutions, “make the air worse for people” because they reduce “some volatile organic compounds but actually increase the concentration of other VOCs.”
The district planned to use CARES Act funds to cover the devices’ $359,945 cost.
Global Plasma Solutions said it reached out to the district to share additional data, answer questions, and conduct onsite testing.
Considering bipolar ionization units?
Good indoor air quality will remain important long after the pandemic retreats. If your schools are weighing an investment in bipolar ionization, ultraviolet light, or other air-purifying technology, TASB Facility Services Manager Shelly Branstetter recommends you consult your HVAC professional.
“A lot of these technologies are just one piece of your overall cleaning and COVID-19 response plan,” said Branstetter. “You should confirm that your system is balanced and operating as designed. Before purchasing anything, ask for data that shows how the product performs in school building environments.”
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Bullied child’s suicide leads to $3M settlement
A wrongful death lawsuit cites repeated examples of an 8-year-old child and others being bullied at his elementary school. The boy’s parents contended that school officials knew about the bullying but were “deliberately indifferent,” allowing a “treacherous school environment,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
In addition to the $3 million settlement, the district agreed to develop an anti-bullying plan that includes training and supervising staff on anti-bullying reforms, as well as identifying repeat offenders, victims, and locations. There will be two years of oversight of the district’s anti-bullying plan.
Bullying prevention: It’s the law
Bullying is conduct intended to intimidate or demean the victim. It could come in the form of physical conduct or written or verbal expression, such as hazing, threats, taunting, confinement, assault, and ostracism.
Bullies might even use electronic communications, a practice commonly referred to as cyberbullying.
Texas Education Code section 37.001 requires districts to prohibit bullying as part of their student code of conduct and to ensure that employees enforce prohibitions. Follow these tips to reduce your schools’ liability risk.
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New hurricane season brings new threat: carbon monoxide poisoning
Forecasters rate hurricanes on their wind speed and potential for damage. But hurricane byproducts such as floods and carbon monoxide poisoning are responsible for most hurricane-related fatalities.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas. Known as the silent killer, CO is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, coal, and wood don’t burn fully.
Since 2017, at least 39 people have died after hurricanes because their emergency generators exposed them to carbon monoxide poisoning. That’s more than the number of lives lost to storm surge, said National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham in this National Public Radio story.
Visit our hurricane season toolkit for tips and resources designed for schools.
CO poisoning is no seasonal hazard
Generators aren’t the only CO source in schools. Boilers, science classroom burners, floor buffers, pressure washers, ovens, and bus engines put staff and students at risk year-round.
Review our safety tips with your team. Remember the risk is higher for maintenance, transportation, and custodial employees because of the equipment they use.
Other no-cost resources:
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Climate change drives chance of floods
It’s flooding down in Texas—literally:
- Victoria absorbed 20.28 inches of rain in May, eclipsing the previous record of 14.66 inches in 1993.
- As of June 5, rain had been recorded in Houston 19 of the previous 23 days.
- And in Plano, torrential rain during the Memorial Day weekend caused flash floods, knocked out power, and delayed flights.
If experts are right, we can expect more of the same not only in Texas but across the globe.
According to a new report by an international team of scientists:
- Daily extreme rainfall rates have been observed through the 20th and early 21st centuries.
- Climate change is driving short-duration rainfall extremes in some regions.
- The risk of flash flooding in urban areas has likely increased in recent decades.
Controlling mold in schools
Floods are the most common weather-related disaster. The risk increases during the summer.
Your emergency operations plan should include procedures for weathering a flood. When it’s time to clean up and assess the damage, make sure your team knows how to control mold in schools.
Wet carpet, walls, and furniture make perfect breeding grounds for mold. Left unchecked, mold in schools can compromise indoor air quality and trigger coughs, sneezes, and itchy eyes. More-serious symptoms can include allergic reactions and asthma attacks.
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