Knowing how to respond quickly and efficiently in a crisis is critical to ensuring the safety of our schools and students. The midst of a crisis is not the time to start figuring out who ought to do what. At that moment, everyone involved- from top to bottom- should know the drill and know each other.
Former Secretary of the US Department of Education
A crisis is “an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending, especially one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome”. Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary 1987
In essence, a crisis is a situation where schools could be faced with inadequate information, not enough time, and insufficient resources, but in which leaders must make one or many crucial decisions.
Student safety has always been a number one priority at The Wood Acres School. While we fervently hope to never utilize our preparedness plans, we are proud to have been one of the first private schools in the area to have a complete plan modeled after the recommended plans in Washington, DC and submitted to the local police precinct. The plan is amended and reviewed each year with faculty and staff. While the details of the plan are confidential, the following should underscore the details to which we “invisibly” protect your and our most treasured people.
The Wood Acres School Emergency Preparedness Plan attempts to address:
- Natural disasters (earthquake, tornado, hurricane, flood, etc)
- Severe weather
- Chemical or hazardous material spill
- Field trip bus accident
- Bomb threat
- Unwanted persons on campus
- School lock down
- Medical emergency
- Act of terror or war
- Outbreak of disease or infection
The Wood Acres School Crisis Planning & Emergency Preparedness Plan 2019-2020
National preparedness efforts, including planning, are now informed by Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8, which was signed by the President in March 2011 and describes the nation’s approach to preparedness. This directive represents an evolution in our collective understanding of national preparedness, based on the lessons learned from terrorist attacks, hurricanes, school incidents, and other experiences.
PPD-8 defines preparedness around five mission areas:
Protection means the capabilities to secure schools against acts of violence and manmade or natural disasters. Protection focuses on ongoing actions that protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, networks, and property from a threat or hazard. for the purposes of this guide, means the capabilities necessary to avoid, deter, or stop an imminent crime or threatened or actual mass casualty incident.
Prevention is the action schools take to prevent a threatened or actual incident from occurring.
Mitigation means the capabilities necessary to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an event or emergency. In this document, “mitigation” also means reducing the likelihood that threats and hazards will happen.
Response means the capabilities necessary to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in an unpreventable way; establish a safe and secure environment; save lives and property; and facilitate the transition to recovery.
Recovery means the capabilities necessary to assist schools affected by an event or emergency in restoring the learning environment. Emergency management officials and emergency responders engaging with schools are familiar with this terminology.
These mission areas generally align with the three time frames associated with an incident: before, during, and after. The majority of Prevention, Protection, and Mitigation activities generally occur before an incident, although these three mission areas do have ongoing activities that can occur throughout an incident.
The Wood Acres School annually updates its schoolwide plan and discusses it with all staff before school begins each year. Although there is never a blueprint for emergencies, plans such as ours provide a framework of reference that is common to all responsible adults on campus and help instill a sense of order, calm, and confidence that Wood Acres will always do its very best to protect, deter, and proactively manage all situations deemed urgent.