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Got A Plan? - Schools

Got A Plan? - Schools

class room

Yes, schools also need to prepare for emergencies. Each school needs to put together a plan to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural or human-made emergencies. The U.S. Department of Education has released a guide, Practical Information on Crisis Planning: A Guide for Schools and Communities, to assist schools in preparing for emergencies. The guide may be downloaded at no cost.

Where to Start

Build a Crisis Response Team. It should include key school personnel such as the principal, teachers, school nurse, counselor, and custodian staff. Each person should have a clear role in an emergency.

Write a Plan

Develop an Emergency Plan. Review and update your plan annually. Be sure to address all types of emergencies.

Sample emergency plans include:


Write a Communication Plan. Describe how students, staff, and parents will be notified in an emergency. For a sample communication plan, visit the Virginia Department of Education Model School Crisis Management. This guide offers a lot of practical tips on how to manage communications during an event. Another good resource is the healthinschools.org Communication Procedures (PDF).

Train Staff on emergency plan procedures. Practice, practice, practice with staff and students. For key components of training and practice guidelines, see the healthinschools.org Key Components of Training and Practice Guidelines (pdf).

Don't Forget Anyone

Help for Students with Special Needs

Your plan should include students with disabilities, such as learning and developmental disabilities, visual and hearing impairments, and physical limitations. Attention is also needed for students with limited English proficiency to make sure they understand the emergency procedures.

Think About:

  • Alternative evacuation routes and shelter for students with mobility problems.
  • How you will get important information to the visual and hearing impaired.
  • Assign a buddy for each student with a disability.
  • Train staff in procedures to assist students with disabilities.

For more information on emergency preparedness and students with special needs, visit

More Resources

Preparing for Pandemic Flu in the Schools.

PandemicFlu.org's School Planning site has more information and resources.

Center for Health and Health Care in Schools. A Quick Guide for School Staff.

healthinschools.org Resources for School Emergency Response Plans and School Safety.

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. Emergency Planning.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Emergency Preparedness and Response.