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Preparing your School

Mike Johnson

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Schools around the world are looking to get back to a pre-COVID operating environment. No one is sure how that environment may look, but one thing is for certain, schools will once again face the same kinds of threats and hazards they have always encountered. To overcome these threats, hazards and other disruptions, schools will need to be prepared with an emergency action plan, or better yet, a robust Emergency Planning Management (emergency preparedness) program.

Clearpath Emergency Planning Management Rotating Circle GIF Logo

Planning > Training > Practice

Emergency Planning Management for schools consists of seven components or phases and should be continuous and ongoing, so all school stakeholders are engaged and informed as to what to do in the event an incident occurs (how to respond). Best practice dictates that twenty percent of the emergency preparedness time be spent on planning, thirty percent on training and fifty percent on practice. This is the heart of emergency planning.

Emergency Planning Management training activities should be based on the school’s threat and hazard scenarios and take known vulnerabilities into account. Emergency Planning Management training should include, not only campus grounds and activities, but also bus and transportation services.

Best practice in emergency preparedness and response dictates that the success of any school’s handling of emergency and crisis situations is directly tied to the planning, drills and training efforts undertaken before the event. Establishing, maintaining and documenting a program with regular frequency of training and drills is critical to successfully navigate the next emergency or crisis situation.

Illustration of a man keeping a group of giant dominos from knocking over

Emergency Planning Management training in a school can be “discussion-based” or “operations-based.”

Discussion-based training involves stakeholder discussions and “brainstorming” of emergency action plans and procedures. This type of training does not require the deployment of resources. 

Examples of EPM discussion-based training include workshops, table-top exercises, seminars and games.

Operations-based EPM training is more complex and involves the use of school personnel, as well as outside resources at times, and the execution of emergency operations plans and procedures. This type of training can improve overall emergency response roles and responsibilities and includes drills and large exercises. Examples of operations-based training include:

  • New staff/faculty/student onboarding (expectations, policies, procedures, awareness)
  • Training for temporary employees, vendors, visitors, guests – (expectations, restrictions, procedures)
  • Specialized (individuals or groups): CPR, first aid, AED, utility cut-offs, alarms, floor monitors
  • Functional quick response procedures: Plan and train for specific duties during an emergency quick action response protocol (“what if” scenarios – IT, receptionist(s), facilities or security staff, floor wardens, etc.)
  • Leadership “walk-through” exercises of emergency response protocol(s)
  • Drills: All hands participation of quick action emergency response protocol(s); debrief and after-action
  • Complex drills: Practicing multiple quick action response protocols during the same training period                                                                                                                                    
  • Mock drills: Simulated, comprehensive, real life scenario drills usually involving outside emergency first responders
  • In-service security awareness training


pandemic plan

All EPM training activities should be well documented and detail who participated and what the emergency training included. 

So as the vaccine and other COVID-19 mitigation measures take hold, how prepared is your school to deal with the same “old” threats when you return to a normal operating environment?

Remember, issues like suicide, bullying, assault, theft, fire and natural threats will again need to be dealt with. Make sure your school stakeholders are trained and prepared for emergency  response and recovery.    

Founded in 2014, Clearpath EPM is a technology and consulting firm providing risk mitigation and emergency preparedness consulting services to domestic and international schools, businesses, events and places of worship.

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