Monday, March 15, 2010

Emergency Planning

As your blogger mans the shop vac and bucket to deal with the aftermath of the storms that hit the Northeast hard this past weekend, we are reminded that nature, and other disasters, can impact school buildings as well as basements.

Within the past several weeks there have been two schools in the New York suburbs that have been hit by fire, necessitating relocating students and classrooms to other buildings. Other issues, including flooding, furnance problems, and structural instability are all possible reasons why students might have their regular building and classrooms compromised. And, of course, we have all seen what the devastation of earthquakes can do in places like Haiti and Chile. Does your school have a disaster plan?

We aren't talking about ways to protect the students. This has fortunately been a huge priority for many years and schools have drills for everything from fire to intruders in the building. But beyond the immediacy of the emergency, education still needs to continue and where there is a widespread disaster the stability of continuing in school can be helpful to students in ways that extend beyond the basics of education. Does your school have a plan for continuing operations if the school building is not available? Are records of all kinds available even if the building and the computers located inside it are not? Has your administration identified other locations (other schools -- public and private, local colleges, large office buildings, etc) that could be pressed into use for classroom space if necessary? Does your school or district have multiple ways of contacting families with the most up to date information -- email, local television stations, radio, and cell phones?

Of course, there are lots of things that schools and school districts have to deal with and as the sun comes up, power is restored, and the water dries up, it is easy to get caught up in the day to day business of education. Still, parents might want to remind their schools that planning for the proverbial rainy day isn't just good advice when talking about financial matters, but can be an important part of education as well.

Photo courtesy Dachalan

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