The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is proud to participate along with FEMA and our Federal family in the first America’s PrepareAthon!, a nationwide, community-based action campaign aimed at increasing emergency preparedness and resilience. This spring, the campaign is focused on preparing for tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and wildfires. Today, April 30, the first National Day of Action, we encourage K-12 schools, institutions of higher education (IHEs), and their community partners to work together to effectively prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the destructive forces of nature and other emergencies and disasters.
School leaders and IHE administrators must make sure the learning environment is safe and healthy for students and staff following a disaster. This includes restoring drinking water, ensuring safe road conditions, removing debris, replacing or renovating damaged buildings, and implementing resilience strategies.
Last year, the White House released the Guide(s) for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs), which provide details on Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8, the nation’s approach to preparedness. PPD-8 is based on lessons learned from a variety of emergencies, including natural hazards and school incidents. It defines emergency preparedness around five mission areas, as pictured in the following graphic:
ED’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students (OSHS) works with other Federal agencies, including FEMA, to help schools and IHEs protect, prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from emergencies. OSHS and its Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center encourage schools to use PPD-8 as a foundation when developing threat- and hazard-specific annexes for EOPs.
Through their Community of Practice, FEMA offers toolkits, checklists, and guides you and your school or IHE can use to respond to each natural hazard type listed below:
You can also access the following sections of the REMS TA Center website to learn how K-12 schools or IHEs can respond to specific hazards:
- Tool Box —Features sample preparedness activities, including drills, tabletops or other exercises relevant to threats and hazards.
- At-a-Glance Version of the Guides—Using the new Federal guidance and trainings offered through the REMS TA Center, you can also learn the recommended six step planning process to develop an EOP, which addresses the development of threat- and hazard-specific annexes.
- At-a-Glance version of the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans; and
- At-a-Glance version of the Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Institutions of Higher Education
To learn more about how you and your school can play a role in America’s PrepareAthon!, visit www.ready.gov/prepare. We hope you will join ED and the REMS TA Center and help get America-specifically, America’s K-12 schools and IHEs-prepared!
Amy J. Banks is a management & program analyst in the Office of Safe and Healthy Students at the U.S. Department of Education