What threats do your children face at school?


Just how much do you know about emergency preparedness at your child’s school?

Three questions for parents:

  1. Has your student come home with a description of school preparations?
  2. What specific threats does the school prepare for?
  3. Do students practice a variety of emergency responses?

There is no single standard for U.S. schools when it comes to emergency preparedness. So you need to be prepared to find out about your own child’s school.

Here’s an excellent resource.

This guide will arm you with the authority you may need to get more answers. It is the U.S. Department of Education, Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools’ Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans: At a Glance.  http://rems.ed.gov/docs/REMS_K-12_Guide_508.pdf  (Whew, what a name!)

The document has 75 pages; it was published in 2013. Yes, it contains many of the familiar acronyms associated with governments and bureaucracies, not to mention emergency preparedness vocab, but as a non-professional ordinary citizen I found it refreshingly readable!

Some highlights of the Guide:

  • Because it is so new (an earlier version was published in 2007), it contains detailed information about active shooter events and gives good instructions for school personnel about how to respond.
  • The Guide also has a good overview of the privacy concerns – and misunderstandings — associated with educational institutions.
  • Throughout, plans for students/faculty/visitors with disabilities are included.

Getting back to the original questions behind this article:

What threats is your school preparing for?

These are the threats identified on page 36 in the Guide. Which threats apply to your local school?

School Threats

What course of action does the school follow for any given threat?

The responses to some specific threats are developed more fully in the guide. Naturally, your own school would develop its own courses of action based on the threats revealed by an initial assessment.

Has your student been trained in how to respond?

Ask your student about fire drills, earthquake drills, rules associated with “lock-down,” etc. If you aren’t getting good answers from your student, are you getting good answers from the school, directly?

We have experienced many emergencies in schools this year, and we can expect more in the future.

Just as you don’t turn your children’s character development over to the school, you can’t assume your children are getting all the emergency response training they need  — so start with the questions above to find out where your students stand.

Action Item: Let us know what you find out about preparedness levels at YOUR school!

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team


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