High-Quality Emergency Operations Planning (EOP)
2.1 Building a Planning Team
EOP planning and development is a significant and important task, and establishing a planning team that is diverse and represents the interests of the whole school community is essential to success.
The emergency management collaborative planning team for a district is made up of individuals representing a cross-section of the school district community, including representatives from its campuses, key stakeholders and community partners and any departments and/or offices that are likely to be involved in incident responses.
Collaboration is essential to all phases of the emergency management cycle. Including stakeholders and community partners in planning helps ensure smooth collaborations during training and drilling and actual response and recovery efforts. More tools for collaborative partnerships will be addressed in Sections 3 and 4 of this Toolkit.
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In emergency management, collaborative partnerships are definitively unique and intimately complex. Nontraditional partners and resources will vary greatly from district-to-district and from campus-to-campus. The district-level planning team should be small enough to facilitate effective communication and collaboration yet large enough to demonstrate inclusion, diversity and community representation. Often this team can mirror the District’s Safety and Security Committee.
If you are developing your first EOP, mirroring your District’s Safety and Security Committee can be a successful approach. As an internal partner in the overall district emergency management program, the District Safety and Security Committee is tasked with the development and implementation of the district’s multi-hazard EOP, the oversight of the safety and security audits (mandated every three years), and the review of any information required to be submitted to the Texas School Safety Center (see TEC 37.109).
A roster of the District Safety and Security Committee members, as well as the collaborative planning team, if a separate committee is established, should be included as an attachment to the Basic Plan.
Establishing Roles and Responsibilities within the Planning Team
Pre-planned roles and responsibilities for team members, can prevent miscommunication and misunderstanding. This is especially true for school districts whose boundaries cross several cities/counties, EMS, fire and/or law enforcement jurisdictions. Involving decision-makers from the different planning team member groups is vital. Each representative must be able to speak with authority on policy, provide subject matter expertise, and provide accountability as it relates to their group or organization. They must be willing to play a constructive and positive role in the school emergency management planning process.
Scheduling Meetings for the Planning Team
The planning team should meet regularly but must also recognize the value of allowing for flexibility to ensure that members of the whole school community are involved.
Agreements with planning team members must be defined when discussing the preliminary expectations of each team member. This includes discussing items such as:
- Meeting schedules to review or update the district EOP
- Collaborative training opportunities (drills, exercises, and meetings)
- Acknowledgement by all parties that participation on the team may require flexibility of scheduling
- Understanding that task forces or subcommittees can address some or all of the minutiae work (not all team members may need to attend all meetings)
- Identifying the parameters of involvement for each group