OSPI School Safety Tips for April

Mike Donlin | OSPI School Safety Center
Mar 18, 2020


When the requirement for comprehensive school and district safety plans was first written into law nearly 20 years ago, the legislature had some very insightful comments on the need for such plans. The note accompanying RCW 28A.320.125 says:

“The legislature recognizes that there is a need to focus on the development and implementation of comprehensive safe school plans for each public school. The legislature recognizes that comprehensive safe school plans for each public school are an integral part of rebuilding public confidence. In developing these plans, the legislature finds that a coordinated effort is essential to ensure the most effective response to any type of emergency. Further, the legislature recognizes that comprehensive safe school plans for each public school are of paramount importance and will help to assure students, parents, guardians, school employees, and school administrators that our schools provide the safest possible learning environment.”  (Bolds and italics are mine.)

When it comes to developing comprehensive safety plans, the process is more important than the product.  I have often been asked if I can just share a sample of someone’s safety plan so that names and locations can be changed and adapted for a new site. The answer is no. Developing comprehensive safety plans is a process specific to a district or school. A comprehensive school safety plan takes time, effort, collaboration - and then practice, before starting over. For more information on developing district and school safety plans, 

One component of a comprehensive safety plan involves planning for longer-term emergency situations – earthquakes and other natural disasters, other major threats and hazards; we have been facing one such situation head on for some time now with the COVID-19 pandemic virus. That safety plan component is a Continuity of Operations Plan, or simply a COOP. A COOP helps ensure that essential district or school functions continue during an emergency and its immediate aftermath. Again, there is no one-size-fits-all. Each COOP is developed to meet the specific needs of its district or school. More information on COOPs and COOP planning can be found on the Safety Center Continuity of Operations Plan page.

As we move through the current pandemic emergency, and as we approach a new normal, let’s all be well prepared for whatever comes next. If you need any assistance with your comprehensive school safety or COOP planning, please do not hesitate to contact our office.



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