High-Quality Emergency Operations Planning (EOP)
2.4 EOP Preparation, Review, and Approval
The EOP is actually written during the preparation phase. Clearly, much discussion and evaluation must occur before, during, and after the EOP is written. A district’s EOP is a “living” document in which changes are commonly made based on the findings of evaluations and the identification of best practices. As these changes are made, the EOP must be reviewed and approved once again to ensure ongoing compliance throughout the district. The review and approval phases ensure that the plan is adequate, accurate, feasible, and accepted by all stakeholders.
Preparing the EOP
The actual writing of the EOP is made much simpler than it may seem by using the planning templates provided in Section 1 of this toolkit. In reality, the discussions related to how the district will mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from hazard or threat impacts make up the majority of the work in the preparation phase. The writing of the plan only documents the results of those discussions. An accurate, adequate, feasible, and accepted plan reflects the district’s implementation of a viable and effective planning process.
The TxSSC EOP templates include annotations to assist the planning team in documenting its efforts using the characteristics of a high-quality plan. An additional resource, the “Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans”, published by the Readiness in Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance Center in 2013, also discusses the planning process and provides a number of tools to assist in conducting planning effectively and efficiently.
Review of the EOP
Reviewing the EOP is essential to ensure that the written plan remains in compliance with board policy and applicable federal and state mandates. Whether finishing the process of writing the district’s first high-quality EOP or merely checking an existing EOP to ensure quality and accuracy, the review process remains equally important. The review phase ensures the plan:
- Provides guidance to the district on identified threats and hazards
- Outlines activities that are achievable utilizing the identified resources
- Integrates the needs of the whole school community
- Includes success criteria and the desired end state
- Complies with all policy, rules, and regulations
- Conforms with the Six Planning Principles
During the preparation phase, the EOP is written by customizing the templates to ensure that the plan adequately reflects the results of the planning process. The review phase, however, is focused on a systematic evaluation of the EOP contents as compared to existing rules, laws, regulations, realities, and best practices.
The approval of the EOP is the culmination of planning efforts that demonstrate the completion of the planning team’s primary goal – a high-quality EOP for the district. Without formal approval, the actions and anticipated outcomes identified within the plan are less likely to become a reality in the event of an emergency, as key personnel will lack the authority, autonomy, and responsibility for carrying out these actions.
EOP approval is reflected in the plan’s Promulgation Statement, a section of the EOP that gives the plan official status, ensures that it supersedes any previous plan, and gives both the authority and responsibility for employees to perform assigned tasks identified within the plan. The Promulgation Statement should also briefly outline the organization and content of the plan and describe what it is, who it affects, and the circumstances in which it should be executed.
At the end of the statement, key senior school officials with the designated roles for emergency management should sign the document to demonstrate acceptance and approval of the plan in its entirety. Typical signatories include the district superintendent and district emergency management coordinator. However, districts should evaluate their legal, cultural, and political climates to ensure that all appropriate signatories are included.
The information presented in this section addresses how all parts of the EOP are developed and approved. You will put the mechanics discussed into practice as your planning team develops each individual part of the EOP. The planning process defines how the planning team is established and the considerations that affect all decisions made as they develop the EOP and its supporting documents. Section 3 will leverage these considerations as the planning team begins to gather the necessary information to document the district’s plan of action in the event of an emergency or disaster.