There’s no doubt about it, the start of the 2020-2021 school year is like no other in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All across America educational administrators are grappling with when to open schools, whether to teach in the classroom or online (or both), and how to keep everyone safe during this unprecedented time. They’re also thinking about the real possibility of having to close school doors again if there’s an uptick in coronavirus cases or the flu season proves to be a bad one. It’s a real quandary.
Fortunately, most schools across the country have emergency/continuity plans in place to contend with such disruptions. Take Tennessee’s Williamson County Schools (WCS) and the Franklin Special School District (FSSD), for example. They partnered with BOLDplanning and others, including the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, to develop a comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) for each of their 60+ schools. Further, they put the plan to the test through regularly scheduled drills and exercises to ensure the school systems’ continued preparedness.
As a reminder, the purpose of an EOP is to identify and respond to incidents by outlining the roles and responsibilities of staff, faculty, students, and other key stakeholders before, during, and after an incident. Developing, maintaining, and exercising the plan empowers employees in an incident to act quickly and knowledgeably. Moreover, the EOP provides parents and other members of the community assurances that schools have established guidelines and procedures for responding to situations in a timely, proper, and effective way.
At BOLDplanning, we urge you to review and if necessary, update your school system’s EOP (if you have not done so already). We also invite you to download the case study highlighting the preparedness efforts of WCS and FSSD. It’s a quick read and may prove useful as you enter the 2020-2021 school year, albeit with an abundance of caution.