Widely publicized accounts of tragedy striking school campuses have raised the level of concern among parents, teachers and students alike. The unsettling events of Colorado’s Columbine High School and Virginia Tech forced schools nationwide to shed their innocence, dispel their complacency about emergency preparedness, pause, and take stock. The crucial lesson drawn from those headlines is that schools must maintain a high level of preparedness for man-made emergencies as well as natural disasters.
Such planning is the responsibility of the school district and site administrators, but preparedness programs also depend upon support from the parent community. Some activities can be coordinated by parent volunteers to enhance overall school emergency planning, coordination and response. Administrators and parent organizations can work together to establish emergency preparedness activities that boost confidence in the response capability of the school.
This guidebook was written to jumpstart the process toward supporting the resiliency of a school community to respond to emergencies. Each chapter outlines an activity that can be adapted for any school, no matter where situated, no matter the size, where parent committees can take the lead to support school preparedness. The school-related scenarios presented in this guidebook describe actual incidents and introduce the parent-led activity from which they might benefit. It is targeted for schools ready to recognize that emergency preparedness no longer consists solely of monthly fire drills in which students evacuate classrooms to a pre-designated spot or a quarterly duck, cover and hold on exercise to prepare for when the earth beneath them starts to rock and roll.
There is no ironclad preparedness for disasters in the contemporary world and no sure means to neutralize our vulnerability, but a thoughtful approach that addresses foreseeable communication, logistical and safety issues can enhance our peace of mind while our beloved offspring are away at school. A thoughtful approach that addresses foreseeable communication, logistical and safety issues can enhance our peace of mind while our beloved offspring are away at school.