When students, teachers, and staff are in school—and when parents send their children to school—they expect the school to keep them safe from an array of threats like bad weather, acts of violence, student fights, and now COVID-19. A comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) that outlines how your school will prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies is critical—but it is only valuable if it is regularly updated and if the policies are routinely practiced.
Every School Needs an EOP
Schools are trusted—and obligated—to collectively protect the 55 million+ students that attend our nation’s K-12 schools. For schools to meet this obligation, they need a robust plan that clarifies how they will respond to an array of both human-caused emergencies, like violence and crime, as well as hazards like natural disasters or a pandemic.
Your EOP should cover the entire timeline of incidents, clearly describing what actions each person—students, staff, and external resources like first responders and public or mental health professionals—will take before, during, and after incidents. Your plan should have policies around how to manage localized incidents, how to alert first responders of emergencies, how to account for students and reunify them with approved guardians, as well as how to adjust school policies during a pandemic—just to name a few.
Updating your EOP for Pandemic Response
Even though FEMA has long suggested including pandemic response in EOPs, many schools realized they were unprepared to respond to COVID-19. Updating your EOP with your pandemic response—especially with any lessons learned from the current COVID-19 pandemic—is imperative as you begin the new school year. Considerations for your plan include how you will:
- Adhere to CDC and your state and local health authority recommendations
- Keep individuals with COVID-19 risk from entering your school through actions like:
- Pre-screening students each day for symptoms and exposure risk
- Screening visitors, contractors, and volunteers with COVID-19-specific questions
- Modify your visitor management policy and limit contact with visitors
- Alert others of exposure and facilitate contact tracing
- Continue education through remote learning
- Sanitize the school with routine cleanings
- Ensure your students, staff, and external resources follow your EOP during emergencies
Having a comprehensive—and always updated—EOP not only means that you are prepared to respond to any emergency, but it also provides assurance to students, staff, and families that your school takes safety seriously.
A trusted partner to over 32,000 K-12 U.S. schools, Raptor Technologies® provides the only integrated school safety platform that helps schools address COVID-19 and other complex safety needs, including: screening students and visitors for COVID-19, facilitating contact tracing, keeping unsafe individuals out, and being prepared and knowing how respond to any emergency.