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Crisis Response Planning

Emergencies come in many forms, from natural disasters to medical emergencies to behavioral incidents. While we can't predict everything, we can be prepared. By proactively planning and implementing effective crisis prevention strategies, we can:

  • Minimize the impact of a crisis on students, staff, and the entire school community.
  • Promote a culture of safety where awareness and preparedness are the norm.
  • Empower educators and staff to respond effectively in stressful situations.
  • Enhance student well-being by fostering a secure and supportive learning environment.

This page offers frameworks and guidance that have been created to aid schools in crafting effective emergency operations plans that will provide support in the event of a crisis. Additional resources are available to facilitate the creation of supportive learning environments, which are proven to enhance physical and psychological safety within schools and mitigate the occurrence of crises within the school community.

Note: links shared that take users beyond the Pennsylvania Department of Education's website to a non-PDE website, organization, product, process, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by PDE, and, PDE is not responsible for the content featured on any of the sites or pages referenced.

A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools
The author organizations and cosigners of A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools represent the educators and community partners who work day in and day out to keep our children safe, ensure their well-being, and promote learning. The partnership between our organizations seeks to reinforce the interdisciplinary, collaborative, and cohesive approach that is required to create and sustain genuinely safe, supportive schools that meet the needs of the whole child.

Our joint statement outlines evidence-based policies and practices for improving school safety and increasing access to mental health supports for children and youth. Efforts to improve school climate, safety, and learning are not separate endeavors and must be designed, funded, and implemented as a comprehensive school-wide approach. We urge policy leaders to support this guidance to shape meaningful policies that will genuinely equip America's schools to educate and safeguard our children over the long term.

Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans
In 2013, the White House and six Federal agencies (U.S. Departments of Education; Homeland Security, led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; Justice, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Health and Human Services) released guidance for creating, reviewing, and maintaining customized and comprehensive school emergency operations plans (EOPs). Schools can use the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans (School Guide) to create new plans as well as to revise and update existing plans and align their emergency management planning practices with those at the national, state, and local levels. The intended audience of this guidance document is school safety leaders and members of core planning teams at K-12 schools (public, nonpublic, charter, rural, etc.). The School Guide may be accessed in two formats on the REMS TA Center Website.

The role of Districts in Developing High-Quality School Emergency Plans: A Companion to the School Guide
This guide recommends that districts apply the same planning principles; follow the same six step process and complete the tasks associated with each step, that underlie the planning process described in the School Guide. The District Guide, however, provides more district-focused information. This guide also contains a checklist of activities and responsibilities for districts that allows them to stay on course and track their progress.

Guiding Principles for Creating Safe, Inclusive, Supportive, and Fair School Climates​​
Developed by the U.S. Department of Education, this guide provides guidance on how to maintain safe, inclusive, supportive, and fair learning environments for students and school staff. This guide includes specific recommendations for evidence-based practices to give students what they need to learn and grow. ​