Data backup is a crucial step in IT preparedness.

While student safety remains schools’ top priority during threats of natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes, school administrators and IT leaders must also ensure that they take measures to protect valuable student and school data.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, knocking out power and, along with it, school districts’ access to technology and data centers. Devastating tornadoes, including the 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla., and the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo., rocked school communities.

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) launched its IT Crisis Preparedness Leadership initiative in 2008 after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and other catastrophic events. The initiative gives school administrators and technology leaders free resources to help school systems plan for and respond to the next crisis, focusing on the role of technology leaders, identifying best practices, and devising strategies for shutdown and startup processes.

(Next page: Important steps school administrators should take)