Emergency Management

Schools continually face emergencies that vary in severity, duration, and expenditure. Therefore, emergency management is at the forefront of school safety and security related issues. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) defines emergency management as "the protection of the civilian population and property from the destructive forces of natural and man-made disasters through a comprehensive program of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery." Thus, schools must take preventive safety actions to successfully fulfill their primary mission, which is educating students. These preventative measures include planning, drilling and training for a variety of emergencies.

Schools begin the planning phase through the development of an all-hazard Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). The TEC §37.108 requires each district's EOP address mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. The planning phase however does not stop with the development of an EOP; rather, this is simply the beginning of an ongoing process. Once the EOP is in place the drilling and training components of emergency management begin to identify areas in need of improvement, clarify member roles, and improve coordination.

In addition to developing an EOP, school districts should continually self-assess their emergency management process. The Texas Legislature addressed the need for constant improvement and awareness with the inclusion of TEC §37.108 (b). The statute requires each school district and public junior college to conduct a safety and security audit of their facilities at least once every three years. Key features of the audits are collected by the TxSSC and aggregated into a statewide report. This process directs school districts and junior colleges attention to the safety and security needs of their facilities.

Hurricane Harvey Resources for Texas Schools


Hurricane Harvey swept our Texas coast, and as a result, affected 58 counties in the state. Consequently, the daily operations of many districts and schools were negatively impacted as a result of the storm. In order to help districts, school personnel, and students begin the recovery process, the Texas School Safety Center is compiling a list of trusted organizations and timely resources to assist our schools and communities during this difficult phase. (Read more…)

The Most Important Safety Plan is the One you Don’t Have


According to the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state is crisscrossed with over 439,771 miles of pipelines. Human error, like digging without calling 811 to have underground pipelines and utilities marked for safety beforehand, is still the leading cause of pipeline damages across the United States. Therefore, it is important for Texas schools to have relevant information and resources to keep students safe at school, along bus routes, athletic fields and during school events, where pipelines may be nearby.(Read more…)

Keeping Our Playgrounds Safe


Students engage in a variety of activities during play time, lunch periods, recess hours and physical education classes at school playgrounds. The activities that occur at these playgrounds contribute to the overall academic success as well as the general wellbeing of students. Playgrounds also provide opportunities for students to interact and build good relationships with their peers outside of the classroom. Further, playgrounds provide ways for students to engage in physical activities which contribute to the physical, social, mental or cognitive development of children. Research shows that, playgrounds serve as places for learning and development and as sources of well-being and health promotion. Playgrounds, therefore, offer many opportunities for students which have wide reaching effects that extend beyond the physical boundaries of the playgrounds. (Read more…)

Unseen Dangers: A look at Hazards You May Be Overlooking


School officials today are more diligent and proactive than ever at assessing potential risks, threats and hazards that may be in or around their schools, athletic fields and bus routes. But one danger is often overlooked and left out of emergency assessments and plans likely because it is out of sight. Pipelines are transporting hazardous materials beneath our feet every moment of every day and if damaged or leaking, can produce a catastrophic emergency that is hard to be prepared for and places hundreds at risk. That is why the American Petroleum Institute says that schools that are located near pipelines are “high consequence areas”. How relevant is this to Texas schools? (Read more…)

Visitor Management and School Safety


Access control continues to be one of the top safety and security challenges faced by schools. Allowing unauthorized individuals access to a school or facility can compromise student and staff safety. To help reduce the occurrence of any safety incidents, this article provides guidance that schools and districts can utilize when creating and/or improving visitor management and access control procedures to promote safe, secure and healthy learning environments. (Read more…)

Taking the Next Step in School Preparedness


No district or school wants to imagine the effects of a large scale disaster on their community. Often, the phrase "it will not happen here" or "it will not happen to us" is thrown around. In reality, regardless of geographical location, all districts in Texas are vulnerable to some type of large scale disaster, whether it is manmade or natural. These threats, disasters, and hazards will ultimately disrupt the school day and send the school into a state of crisis. It is the responsibility of administrators to ensure staff is trained and the district is adequately prepared to respond to and recover from these incidents. In order to respond and recover effectively, districts must focus their attention on preparedness. (Read more…)

Background Checks for On-campus Housing


The safety and security of students in Texas school districts and institutes of higher education (IHE) is a concern for lawmakers, administrators, and citizens. However, school districts and IHE require different approaches to safety and security. A key difference between school districts and IHE campuses regards the student population. (Read more…)