Post-Crisis Procedure for Schools

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will provide the US Department of Education's checklist of step-by-step procedures that should be used in schools when a crisis occurs. This lesson will elaborate on the DoE checklist with reasoning, explanations, or examples that should provide substance to the list.

You Better be Ready!

According to a document from the US Department of Education titled, ''Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools'', when a crisis occurs at the school, a checklist must be followed in order to diffuse the crisis with minimal damage. Let's take a look at these steps in a post-crisis protocol and discuss the rationale for why these steps should be taken.

  • Assess life/safety issues immediately.

Obviously, if a crisis represents an active and ongoing threat to students lives or safety, assessing these risks will be the very first step to take during a crisis. For example, in the event of an unexpected afternoon lightning storm, you would first want to bring inside any students from the playground before shutting down the computers.

  • Provide immediate emergency medical care.

If a crisis results in injuries of students or faculty, emergency medical treatment can be provided as soon as the active threats to other's lives and safety has been averted. In cases requiring some kind of immediate medical care, it is critical that trained staff, like school nurses, be ready and available to assist. School personnel with CPR training should be easily identifiable and available during a crisis. Similarly, first aid kits should be placed conveniently throughout the school.

  • Call 911 and notify police/rescue first.

While it may be tempting to contact your own loved ones during a crisis to let them know you are safe, it is critical that you first contact Emergency Services by calling 911. With so many students carrying their own cell phones, it is not uncommon to crowd the cell phone networks, making it impossible to reach an outside line.

  • Call the superintendent second.

Each school may have its own protocol for initiating an emergency contact to the superintendent of schools. Make sure that your post-crisis procedure plan follows these protocols and have a back-up plan in case this is not possible. For example, if the district's rules state that only the principal or vice-principal are supposed to coordinate contact with the board, but the emergency in question is a foodborne illness that affected the principal and vice principal, there must be a contingency.

  • Convene the crisis team to assess the situation and implement the crisis response procedures.

Many schools have an active Crisis Intervention team trained in handling a variety of emergencies and applying district-wide procedures for responding to a crisis. Each member of The Crisis Intervention team will have their own area of expertise that should cover a broad range of potential crises. At the advent of the crisis, team members should be notified so they can assess the situation and implement a coordinated response.

  • Evaluate available and needed resources.

It is important to know what resources you may have available and what resources you may need during a crisis. For example, emergency medical care may be an available resource in the moment, but ongoing long-term treatment may be required for a full recovery.

  • Alert school staff to the situation.

Many staff members will know about the crisis in real time because they are present, other staff members will know fairly quickly as members of the crisis response team. Other staff members may need to know about the crisis right away if the situation is ongoing. Some staff members may be filled in later in a memo or staff meeting.

  • Activate the crisis communication procedure and system of verification.

If there are standard crisis communication procedures in place, such as an automated call-out system to inform parents of an emergency dismissal, then you may be ready to activate these systems.

  • Secure all areas.

If the school has a system for going on lockdown, this may be the best way to secure all areas. If the crisis is isolated to a specific part of the school, it may only be necessary to secure only that area so the situation does not spread to other parts of the building. Lockdowns can happen to secure the school from an active shooter, a threat of kidnapping, a police situation in a neighboring house, or even as a result of inclement weather.

  • Implement evacuation and other procedures to protect students and staff from harm. Avoid dismissing students to unknown care.

When it is necessary for student safety, evacuate the students safely or call for early dismissal. Ensure that if a parent is unable to retrieve their own child and sends someone else, that the parents have confirmed their stand in so that you do not send a child home with someone who isn't authorized.

  • Adjust the bell schedule to ensure safety during the crisis.

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