For Schools & Child care
Emergency Preparedness for Schools and Child Care
Schools are a large part of our community in Johnson County. With 20-25% of the community in and out of schools each day, no other institution has more interface, which is why we have identified them as one of five key groups to engage at a deeper level.
The preparedness level of schools, along with businesses, community organizations, large venues, and vulnerable populations, has a direct impact on the preparedness of the whole community and is important to the people they serve.
Additionally, each has unique needs and considerations, warranting a tailored approach to emergency preparedness for each group. For example, children make up the majority of the population in schools, making schools especially vulnerable to the impacts of disasters.
Johnson County Emergency Management has developed a targeted community outreach initiative to more closely engage specific areas of our community, as mentioned above. For each of the identified groups, we have organized a meeting that brings together similar organizations along with representatives from emergency management and public safety.
The purpose of these meetings is to:
- Strengthen relationships between emergency management and community partners,
- Increase awareness regarding preparedness levels and specific needs,
- Share information about existing preparedness efforts, available resources, and best practices, and
- Identify opportunities to work together in strengthening the culture of preparedness in our community.
Some of these groups are very broad and therefore it makes sense to break them down into smaller groups. We have divided "schools" into four subgroups: public schools, private schools, higher education, and child care/early education. After initial meetings with each subgroup, many have had subsequent meetings. See below for key considerations identified at the meetings.
If you are an individual or organization that represents the "schools and child care" group and you would like to join this conversation, please contact us and let us know how you would like to be involved.
Key Considerations for School Emergency Preparedness
Key elements of a successful school preparedness program:
- Coordination - School leadership, emergency management, first responders, and other community partners continually working together to address preparedness in schools
- Communication - Establishing and maintaining open lines of communication among crisis response team members, community partners, staff, students, district personnel, parents and the media before, during and after an incident
- Planning & Training - Important to have clearly stated plans and procedures and ensure all stakeholders are aware of their role in implementing them
- Exercises & Drills - Maintaining an exercise schedule and ensuring plans and procedures are continuously evaluated
Concerns regarding school emergency preparedness in Johnson County:
- Lack of awareness regarding other relevant emergency plans and programs
- Lack of communication/coordination between school districts and community partners
- Prioritization of preparedness efforts (planning, training, exercising)
- Lack of available funding to address preparedness in schools
Potential solutions to close the gaps:
- Find ways to enhance communication between schools and the emergency services community to heighten awareness, share best practices, and identify opportunities for future collaboration
- Have Johnson County Emergency Management continue to bring schools together on a regular basis to heighten awareness, coordinate activities, and enhance preparedness efforts
- Find opportunities for school representatives to participate in ongoing community planning/trainings/exercises
- Establish a mechanism to ensure emergency management can provide preparedness and response information with schools when needed
- Identify ways to solidify support from organizations’ leadership in strengthening the culture of preparedness
Resources for School Emergency Preparedness
- U.S. Department of Education - Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security - School Safety and Security
- FEMA Ready Kids Campaign
- Red Cross - Prepare Your School for Emergencies
- Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness & Response
- FEMA Course IS-362.A: Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools
- NOAA's Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador Initiative