The Government Accountability Office estimates that the overwhelming majority of school districts in the United States have emergency plans in place to address multiple threats and hazards (see graph below). These plans meet no GAO Emergency Response, 2016.national standard, leaving “district officials, principals, teachers, parents, and local first responders [to] decide what is best for their community” (GAO. Emergency Management, March 2016, p16).
• Review your school and town/city/county emergency preparedness plans. They are often available online. Write a letter to the Editor addressing the following questions: How has emergency preparedness changed over the century? What has been improved upon from the Collinwood fire in 1908? What suggestions would you have for the future?
• This school “Risk Assessment Form” from the Vermont School Crisis Guide is similar to those recommended or required in many other states. Though intended for administrators, it also provides a tool for students to think about present-day perceptions of school safety and hazards.
• Television and news reports on “active shooter” drills may also be good resources for thinking about the benefits and consequences of extreme preparation in the interest of school safety. Is it possible to push safety drills too far? See, for example, “Fake Blood and Blanks” and “Rehearsing for Death.”