How Texas Schools Can Prepare for Successful Safety Drills in 2022-23

Texas Safety Drill Requirements

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In order to comply with the Governor’s requirements following the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, all Texas schools must schedule their emergency drills prior to the start of the 2022-23 school year and ensure that school staff and substitutes are trained to implement the appropriate safety procedures.  

Under state law, Texas schools are required to conduct a minimum of ten safety drills per school year: 

  • One secure drill 
  • Two lockdown drills (one per semester)
  • One evacuation drill
  • One shelter-in-place for hazmat drill
  • One shelter for severe weather drill
  • A minimum of four fire safety drills (at least two per semester, or more if recommended by the local fire safety marshal) 

The State of Texas has issued written Drill Guidance for School District Administrators to follow when designing and executing safety drills. By following this guidance, your school can ensure compliance and prepare for successful safety drills in 2022-23. 

1. Prepare a Drill Design Team

The state’s Drill Guidance recommends that the drill design team include a number of school safety professionals, including but not limited to: 

  • School Safety and Security Committee members
  • First responders
  • School mental healthcare professionals (psychologists, social workers, or counselors)
  • School nurses
  • Educators
  • Other school staff including coaches, custodians, etc. 

All the members of this team have valuable input that districts should take into consideration when planning school safety drills. Ideally, all team members should be trained in school safety procedures prior to drill planning. 

2. Design the Drill

In order to design school safety drills to be as effective as possible, school districts should follow these steps:

  • Identify and define a clear purpose for the drill 
  • Outline the specific protocols and procedures that will be drilled 
  • Determine the drill’s participants, date, and time 
  • Adapt procedures to staff and students with functional limitations due to disability 
  • Explicitly communicate drill procedures and timing to students to minimize fear
  • Consult with school mental health professionals to avoid undue trauma during drills 

When planning drills, schools need to consider the protocols and procedures that will keep students safest and maximize the drill’s success. In order to achieve these goals, drill procedures should include the following elements: 

  • Regular tests of the emergency alert systems
  • “Go-kits” for staff members, including the school nurse
  • External messaging strategies for the local community
  • Internal messaging strategies for school community
  • Parent notification messaging systems
  • “All Clear” procedures specific to the drill type
  • Adapted notification practices for community members with functional limitations 

3. Prepare for the Drill

Preparing for a successful drill includes training and orienting educators and school staff to the drill procedures. This training should include standard school safety procedures, but also information about best practices for grounding and stabilizing students impacted by trauma during the drill process.  

Schools should also prepare physical materials, including “go-kits” for district staff (based upon their roles), students’ emergency contact information, necessary medical supplies for students with medical needs, and tools for communicating the drill to the student and parent populations (such as email, social media, or announcements).  

4. Evaluate the Drill

The best possible school drills maximize student preparedness and minimize unnecessary negative reactions, including fear and perceptions of victimization among students. Schools should conduct After-Action Reviews (AARs) to determine how well these goals were met by the drill.  

The Drill Guidance recommends that AARs be guided by three essential questions: 

  1. What did we want to happen?
  2. What actually happened?
  3. Why the difference? 

School mental healthcare professionals should be involved in the evaluation process to determine the potential mental health impacts of the drill and reduce these impacts as feasibly as possible. Parents and educators must also be empowered to speak to debrief safety drills with students, recognize trauma reactions, and refer students for mental health crisis intervention as needed. 

5. Document the Drill

The state of Texas requires schools to document drill data, as well as AAR communications. This documentation can include paperwork, student rosters, drill materials, and financial documents. Local fire marshals may also require their own documentation. This documentation can be easily readied by using Raptor’s School Safety Drill Management Software to collect, store, and report school safety drill information. 

What Are School Safety Drill Best Practices?

Planning and executing successful safety drills is an enormous undertaking for any school district, especially with the added pressure of meeting a tight statewide deadline. The State of Texas offers a number of drill planning resources for schools, including a Pre-Drill Planning Form and Post-Drill Assessment Form, to help you through the process. Raptor also recommends a number of school safety drill best practices for ensuring a successful safety drill 

Raptor’s School Safety Drill Management Software can also help ease some of the burdens of drill planning on school districts. In addition to initiating and running school drills at the touch of a button, the software automatically generates district-level reports that can be used to gather the necessary data to document your compliance with the TxSSC by September 9, 2022.  

Related Resources

Guide to K-12 Emergency Management
Proven Strategies to Protect Your School
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