To ensure that protocols are consistent with the expectations of local emergency responders, schools should familiarize themselves with the four recognized phases of emergency management and build these into their plans:
Prevention-Mitigation: Prevention is the actions(s) schools and districts take to decrease the likelihood that an event or crisis will occur. Mitigation is the action(s) schools and districts take to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage related to an event(s) that cannot be prevented.
Preparedness: Preparedness includes actions designed to prepare the school community for potential emergencies by coordinating with community partners through the development of policies and protocols, incident command systems, training, and exercises.
Response: Response is taking action to effectively contain and resolve an emergency.
Recovery: Recovery includes actions designed to assist students, staff, and their families in the healing process and to restore education operations in schools.
Plans that are developed to include these four phases should be reviewed and updated on a continuous basis. Moreover, each phase should be seen as being interrelated and as an extension of the others. For example, when creating school crisis response teams during the Preparedness phase, school officials should consider the role that the team will play during the Response phase.
In the event of an emergency, schools must also be prepared to communicate information to parents quickly and efficiently. Developing protocols and expectations for parents and guardians in advance may eliminate some of the chaos that can occur during and after an emergency. Schools should pay careful attention to parent/child reunification plans. In addition, emergency management plans must consider the specific needs of all populations - particularly children and staff with disabilities or special needs and parents and students whose first language is other than English.