Recent incidents in Texas and across the nation remind us of the importance of comprehensive emergency management programs. Schools must be prepared to respond effectively and efficiently to an emergency or catastrophic event in order to achieve the best possible outcome for students, staff, and the community.
A single program or protocol does not represent all the potential hazards that could disrupt school operations, so it is not a comprehensive program. In fact, an all-hazards emergency operations plan is a key component of safe and prepared schools.
Emergency plans themselves do not guarantee performance, rather they represent a conceptual framework for a consistent and coordinated response during any incident. Plans and their supporting documents outline the organization’s intended approach to managing emergencies and disasters of all types. However, in order to be effective, emergency plans and programs must be supported by collaboration, training, drills and other exercises. Key stakeholders and personnel at an organization must be involved in the planning, and staff at all levels should be knowledgeable and trained in implementing the plan. Emergency operations plans must also align with local, regional, and state agencies as well as the private sector and volunteer organizations involved.
Per Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code, a school emergency plan should incorporate the four phases of emergency management including:
Schools should leverage the resources of their community to learn how to address incidents on their campuses. Specialized programs and processes can be integrated into all-hazards emergency operations plans. As practices evolve, schools must update their plans and coordinate with internal and external partners, including first responders. For example, if a school district or other educational entity decides to adopt the School Marshal Plan or the Guardian Plan to allow personnel to carry firearms on campus, the educational entity must incorporate this information into the emergency operations plan.
TASB Legal Services has published the following guidance on firearms and district personnel and responding to school violence. Organizations considering these programs are encouraged to contact TASB Legal Services at 800.580.5345, and TASB Policy Services at 800.580.7529 for advice.
For information about emergency management and security, please contact Emergency Management and School Security Consultant Melanie Moss.