Schools must prepare to deal with the same types of emergencies that threaten any workplace or home. Fires, natural disasters, contagious diseases and potential criminal activity require clear preventive and response measures.
In support of our priority to maintain student and staff safety, schools and the supervisory union reviewed current emergency management protocols and started the important work of developing coordinated emergency operations plans. This effort required close collaboration with local community agencies, which will continue moving forward.
Following state recommended best practices, we created school-level teams to manage school-based planning and developed an OSSU Public Safety Team with representation from law enforcement, emergency management, fire departments, rescue, transportation, and mental health. The purpose of this team is to assist school teams in their work and also to develop regional-level crisis support efforts since OSSU must be prepared to coordinate across six towns and four counties. This work consists of mapping out the four phases of emergency management:
- Prevention-Mitigation:Identifying all potential hazards and vulnerabilities and reducing the potential damage they can cause;
- Preparedness: Collaborating with community partners to develop plans and protocols to prepare for the possibility that the identified hazards, vulnerabilities or emergencies will occur;
- Response: Working closely with first responders and community partners to effectively contain and resolve an emergency in, or around, a school or campus; and
- Recovery: Teaming with community partners to assist students and staff in the healing process, and restore a healthy and safe learning environment following an emergency event.