Hazard-Specific and Functional Annexes
School districts, community colleges, and the communities they serve work hard to ensure that schools remain safe havens for education. Since organizations cannot predict exactly when or where an incident is going to happen, they must ensure that all instructional and non-instructional facilities and their occupants are prepared to efficiently and effectively manage any possibility. An emergency management program helps to ensure that schools continue to provide a safe, orderly learning environment for all students, faculty, and staff.
School districts should already have emergency operations plans (EOPs) in place to support overall district response to a variety of incidents. Supplemental documents such as hazard-specific and functional annexes provide the framework for a district’s intended approach to managing emergencies and disasters of all types.
A functional annex prepares school officials to deal with effects common to several risks, rather than develop separate plans for each risk. While the causes of an incident can vary greatly, the potential effects do not. For example, outbreaks of the flu or lice or other health-related incidents can be covered by a public health and medical plan. Similarly, plans addressing common tasks such as transportation can be combined into a functional annex which supports response functions around that task.
Hazard-specific annexes also offer a means of extending functional annexes to address special and unique response procedures, notifications, protective actions, emergency public information, and other needs generated by a particular hazard. For example, a cybersecurity plan can cover the strategies needed to respond to and recover from a cyber-attack.
As part of the development of their EOP, schools should perform a hazard assessment to identify which hazards pose the biggest threats and therefore need hazard-specific annexes. Local emergency managers and first responders are often able to assist school districts and community colleges with hazard identification. Working with these individuals helps to ensure appropriate response plans are integrated into local emergency operations.
As is the case with all emergency operations plans, districts should implement regular drills and exercises. Drills and exercises allow for interagency coordination and communications and allow districts to identify gaps in resources and identify opportunities for plan improvements.
The TASB Risk Management Fund has a variety of resources to aid schools in the development of hazard specific and functional annexes so they can prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate incidents and emergencies of all types.
This information is based on a webinar led by TASB Emergency Management and School Security Consultant Melanie Moss. If you have questions or concerns about emergency management and planning, please contact Melanie at 512.505.2868. If you are interested in listening to the recorded webinar, contact TASB Risk Management Member Solutions.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in September 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.