If you have children in your home, you likely have been inundated the last week or two with school shopping, new backpacks and lunchboxes, and dealing with emotional roller coasters of kids being excited to go back to school and the next minute wandering aimlessly wondering where the summer went (or is that us parents?). This time of year is certainly a mad dash of completing paperwork and adjusting schedules (and alarm clocks) to put all the pieces together so our kids make it back to school without a hitch, and I’m sure you did wonderful.
As much as I know everyone hates them, it’s now time for our first pop-quiz. Pencils up – ready?
1. Does your child’s school have an emergency plan or a short emergency checklist for parents?
2. Does your child’s school have an emergency notification system and are you signed up for it?
3. Does your child (children) know what to do and how you will get to them if there is an emergency or disaster? Do you know what you’ll do?
I certainly hope everyone scored a 100% on our quiz. It’s on the honor system so if not, you’ve got homework to do.
The fact is from a continuity and preparedness standpoint, schools have to deal with all the same threats that any business has to deal with: fire, tornados, severe storms, blizzards, hurricanes, power outages, and violence. Schools also have other challenges to plan for that most business professionals would run from – food recalls, flu season, food allergies, lost and found, not to mention those pesky outbreaks of head lice. The even greater challenge that schools must work with is that unlike a business who can inform their adult employees of the company procedures and expect everyone to follow them (mostly), schools have a large percentage of their occupants who may not be old enough to handle themselves in a stressful situation. I think of school preparedness plans more like hospitals and nursing homes, very small staff versus lots of people needing to be taken care of.
So once you take that deep breath after it all begins, don’t forget to ask at the school what their plans are and what your role as a parent is and what you need to know. I guarantee they will be happy to have someone ask those questions (unless they haven’t thought about it either, which means they have homework to do as well).