Though four out of five educators say their schools consider emergency preparedness important, according to a recent eSchool News survey, one in four rate their schools’ level of preparedness as “below average”–and 27 percent say they have little faith in their organization’s ability to carry out its plan.
The findings of this unscientific survey suggest a need for more resources to help school leaders prepare for emergencies, like the hurricanes that devastated Gulf Coast schools a year ago and the shootings that rocked three more schools this fall. To help meet this critical need, eSchool News and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) have teamed up to create a new web site, called the SAFE (School Actions for Emergencies) Center, that will serve as a clearinghouse for essential school safety resources.
Among the services this new center will provide are:
*Emergency-specific collections of the best available research documents and guidelines on preparing for and coping with a disaster or emergency;
*A link library of corporate security and preparedness providers;
*A clearinghouse of exemplary state and local disaster plans that educators can use as models when developing their own plans; and
*Presentations of “best of breed” examples of planning documents covering key types of disasters and emergencies.
“As eSchool News covered the recent tragedies in Pennsylvania and on the Gulf Coast, we discovered there is no single resource educators can turn to when they contemplate confronting these kinds of emergencies. That’s why we’ve partnered with ISTE to try and provide exactly the kind of resource we found lacking,” said eSchool News Editor Gregg W. Downey. “Now, besides just reporting on a disaster affecting education, we’ll also be able to provide the field with many of the resources educators search for as they prepare for emergencies, learn to react as effectively as possible in time of need, and then recover in the aftermath.” Downey continued: “This unique, online resource is available to educators 24-7, absolutely free of charge. I hope all our readers and visitors will take a moment to visit the SAFE Center and then give us their reactions and ideas for improvement. After all, this new SAFE Center is still a work in progress.”
Additional survey results underscore the need in the educational community for such a resource center. Only 10.5 percent of respondents believe their organization is “very capable” of executing its emergency-preparedness plan. In addition, many respondents believe that a disaster is more likely than not to befall their organization in the next five years and beyond. Fifty-nine percent of respondents believe a disaster is “likely” in the next 5-10 years, while 50 percent believe it is “very likely” that one will ever strike.
Watch for the launch of our new SAFE Center in the coming days.
International Society for Technology in Education