Severe Weather Toolkit

3.1 School Continuity of Operations Preparedness

In plain language, school Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP) allows school districts to stay in operation in the event of a disaster. Incidents that could cause disruptions may be facility or campus specific (a building fire or utility outage), district-wide (severe weather such as flooding or hurricanes) or at a statewide/national level (e.g. pandemic illnesses). A COOP provides guidance and establishes responsibilities and procedures to enhance operational resilience during times of disruption.

The fundamental components of developing continuity plans include:

  • Reviewing school business, support and educational processes/essential functions
  • Developing threat and risk assessments, and
  • Evaluating the ability of staff, policy and programs to mitigate detrimental impacts on support functions and education operations

School essential functions are those functions that must be resumed in a timely manner include:

  • Continuity of Education: providing ongoing educational opportunities
  • Continuity of Credit: providing support for student records and data
  • Continuity of Care: providing a safe and healthy environment for students
  • Continuity of Food Service: providing meals through reduced/free lunch programs

COOP programs should be developed in close collaboration with the district emergency management program and use a "multi-hazard" approach for program development and an integrated approach for continuity of incident management. Comprehensive COOP programs include planning, training and exercises to support individual staff, support areas, business operations components and educational activities.

COOP Resources

Functional Annex Template COOP for a District

REMS: School EOPs In-Depth - Developing a COOP Annex


Continuity Plan Template and Instructions for Non-Federal Governments, FEMA (2013)