Severe Weather Toolkit

1.0 Severe Weather and Schools

Texas has some of the most diverse weather in the country. Due to Texas' large land mass, there are many different weather patterns affecting the state at any one time. Rapidly changing weather conditions are a challenge for school districts.

A school district's continuity of operations plan (COOP) will be extensively tested following significant severe weather events. COOP is implemented when normal operations are affected, buildings are damaged, or staff is unavailable. The purpose of a COOP is to ensure essential school and/or district functions are operational within 12 hours and sustainable for up to 30 days. Collaboration with local, county, regional and state resources is essential to saving lives and reducing property loss. School districts should develop memoranda of understanding (MOU) and mutual aid agreements (MAAs) before severe weather threatens. These agreements will help to define roles and responsibilities of both school personnel and collaborative resources from the community and state. School districts should develop agreements for the sharing of resources such as buses, facilities, and supplies and equipment to implement continuity of operation plans.

School staff should be trained in the use of the National Incident Management (NIMS) and the Incident Command Systems (ICS). These systems are used by emergency agencies and responders before, during, and after severe weather incidents. NIMS is described by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a systematic and proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work together seamlessly and manage incidents involving all threats and hazards—regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity—in order to reduce the loss of life, property and the harm to the environment.1 ICS is a management system designed to enable effective and efficient domestic incident management by integrating a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure.2

District emergency operations plans (EOPs) are required to utilize NIMS and ICS in their response to emergencies. The school district's EOP should be developed in cooperation and collaboration with local, county, regional and state partners.

Resources

NIMS Training Chart for K-12 Schools and Higher Education

Online NIMS and ICS Training

Online training on NIMS and ICS is available free of charge through FEMA's Emergency Management Institute. The following courses are recommended for school administrators and school personnel with a role in emergency management:

IS-100.SCA - Introduction to Incident Command System for Schools

IS-200.B - ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents

IS-700.A - National Incident Management System (NIMS) An Introduction

ICS-800.B - National Response Framework, An Introduction

Additional Online Courses

IS-360.A - Preparing for Mass Casualty Incidents

IS-362.A - Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools

References

1 National Incident Management System http://www.fema.gov/national-incident-management-system

2 Incident Command System Resources http://www.fema.gov/incident-command-system-resources