B.C. introduces new emergency planning guide for schools

British Columbia's Ministry of Education has released a new Emergency Management Planning Guide to keep students, teachers and staff safe in any emergency.
The guide maps out standards for schools, districts and authorities to support public, independent and First Nations schools during an emergency, disaster or tragic event.

“It’s up to everybody — individuals, businesses, governments — to be prepared for emergencies and disasters," said Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Naomi Yamamoto. "This also means making sure children and their teachers and support staff are ready in B.C.’s schools."

Developed in collaboration with educators, parents, Emergency Management BC and police, the guide is the first comprehensive document for dealing with natural disasters, human-caused events and technological and biological hazards. It will help schools develop plans while ensuring consistency with emergency terminology, processes and procedures, said the government.

The guide takes an all-hazards approach, focusing on a small number of responses that can be used in a variety of situations. Five basic responses are covered: drop-cover-hold on, evacuate, lockdown, lockout and shelter in place.

Roles and responsibilities for public and independent school teachers, students, parents, principals and superintendents are also defined in the guide. As well, a 10-step process to develop a school emergency management plan is clearly laid out. Customizable templates for release forms, letters and emergency checklists are included in the guide and will be available for download on the Ministry of Education website.

School emergencies can be small scale and confined to one site, or on a larger scale potentially impacting an entire school district or even multiple districts. The guide provides protocols for both schools and districts as they plan for emergencies.