How to Design Effective Evacuation Policies for Schools

There are a number of reasons in which students are told to evacuate their school. From bomb scares to fires to active shooters, student evacuation stories are brought up in the news almost every day throughout the country. Most schools have an emergency evacuation plan in place and have a set schedule for drills to prepare students. But what happens when you actually have to use those plans?

Schools are updating their evacuation plans to move with the times of social networking, instant connectivity, and a more sensitive school culture among their students. Here are some ideas on how to design an effective evacuation policy in today’s schools.

Use Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram–social media is where our students live these days. These platforms are effective means of staying connected to not only what’s going on inside the school but outside of it as well. Social media can help to keep kids informed of what is happening during an evacuation and can even keep authorities updated and vice versa.

Make Sure Emergency Response Team is Identified

An emergency team will more than likely consist of members from different school departments. These can include campus security, part of the administration’s staff, members of the IT department, and teachers. An effective plan will have clearly defined roles and responsibilities ahead of time and include periodic drills that ensure that all team members know exactly what is expected of them during an evacuation.

Expect the Unexpected

A school can go through drill after drill of real-world scenarios, but there will always be something for which you cannot plan or predict. If a school is located in a rural area, how will teachers and staff accommodate students who do not have regular transportation? There must be an emphasis on planning for the unexpected and cover all bases in the event of an accident or evacuation. Be sure to have a designated meeting place for all students and staff members.

Stay Close with Law Enforcement

This is an extremely important part of any evacuation plan. When a school is faced with a real-life emergency situation, a solid working relationship with local law enforcement ensures that the school and the police can work together to make sure everyone is safe and accounted for. This will enhance the likelihood of a quick response from law enforcement and help with crowd control and containing safety and security on the premises.

Make Sure Everyone is Briefed

An evacuation may be the reason for a number of meetings and investigations afterward or it may just be a false alarm. In either situation, it is important that teachers and staff meet and debrief each other on the situation as a whole and discuss best practices and what worked and didn’t work throughout the entire process.

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