The implementation of procedural practices and methods to address school safety must be prefaced by the engagement of all stakeholders including local government, community partners, local school officers, and families. While school safety planning may address localities and regions, procedures are unique to individual school building sites and must coincide with local emergency plans. After all procedural elements are evaluated, no two projects seem to mirror each other completely. Uniqueness is just a result of a well-vetted emergency framework. The resources cited below are useful in understanding the implementation of the four phases of school emergency planning; Prevention, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.
Akin to educational facility planning, school emergency planning requires a cooperative effort that includes social, cultural, political and economic mechanisms at work, and establishes a relationship between those social, cultural, political and economic mechanisms and school emergency planning and its procedures.
A community approach is pivotal to determine the appropriate steps to be followed in creating and maintaining a school emergency plan. A consistent, repetitive examination and revise of safety procedures is immensely critical to building a sustainable and efficient safety framework.
It has been an accepted practice to divide the structure of school emergency planning into four phases:
Each one of these four phases must be documented, published, practiced, trained, reviewed and revised. The school emergency plan must also be dynamic and adaptable to changing circumstances.
Also, considering the individuality of circumstances of schools, even within the same geography, school emergency plans should reflect that uniqueness. For instance, urban, suburban and rural schools must include their particular threats and risks in their planning.
A relevant case scenario was presented during the Southwest Region Conference 2018 of the Association for Learning Environments. Richgrove School District in central California represents the kind of challenges that are real for 50% of school districts in America which are located in census-defined rural areas. It serves a population of 630 K-8 students. The city of Richgrove lacks a city police agency, parks, clubs, funding groups or even restaurants. The community is nestled in California's industrial, agricultural fields. For them, a pervasive safety risk is in the agrochemical treatment of nearby farms. This hazard could occur at any time and without warning. It is just one example of the variety of threats and risks that school emergency planning has to prepare.
The United States Department of Education has identified the following general guidelines to school emergency planning:
- Be developed and strengthened based on local needs and characteristics of the school district.
- Be developed and maintained by community partners.
- Provide for all hazards and reflect the four phases of a school emergency plan.
- Ensure the safety of the whole community, including students, staff, visitors, and people with disabilities and special needs.
- Reflect the components and principles of the National Incident Management System, which are:
- Risk Driven
The development of procedures may benefit from advice provided by both professional and non-governmental organizations and legal counsel. The listing of references and resources that follow have been collected and summarized to aid the drafting of a well-considered policies/procedures or in updating these. Historical reference and statistics on the topic of safety and security can be found amongst this listing.