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Prepare for emergencies and know how to respond and recover.

Emergency planning is a key component of school safety that can include large-scale actions or everyday activities to build a safe school environment. These efforts can stop an emergency event from happening or reduce the impact of an incident that does occur. Emergency planning can also help schools identify and address gaps in procedures and empower school staff and local first responders to understand and manage their responsibilities.

A key component of emergency planning is creating a comprehensive school emergency operations plan (EOP), a document that describe the actions students, teachers, and school staff should take before, during, and after emergency events. Developing an EOP should be a collaborative process that includes a diverse planning team comprised of a range of school personnel as well as local and community partners. Emergency planning should also be inclusive and consider the diverse needs of the entire school community, including individuals with disabilities and students and staff requiring special accommodations. Schools should plan to review, evaluate, and update their EOP on a regular basis.

Conducting training, exercises, and developmentally appropriate drills can also support school emergency preparedness. These activities can help inform all members of the school community of their roles before, during, and after an emergency, as well as provide opportunities to practice courses of action outlined in the EOP and examine and strengthen preparedness capabilities. Exercises and drills should be tailored to account for the specific features and characteristics of the school community, including students’ developmental levels and physical abilities, and balanced with issues related to school culture and climate.

Schools and districts can plan for how they will recover from incidents before they occur, which can make the recovery process faster and more effective. As part of this, school emergency management teams should have an overall strategy and plan to support the academic, physical, emotional, and fiscal recovery of the school community following an emergency.

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All Emergency Planning Resources

Access additional resources below to learn more about K-12 emergency planning and related best practices. Use the filters to sort resources based on subtopic and/or preparedness action.

Emergency Planning
School Transportation Security Programs

Department of Homeland Security

This program offers information on school bus security, including guidelines, assessments, and exercise support for school districts and transportation providers.

Emergency Planning
Be Safe and Sound in School (B3S)

Department of Justice, 2001

This program seeks to raise awareness of school safety and security issues and provide the tools and resources needed for schools to effectively address them.

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