skip to main content

Policy 3010 - Emergency Preparedness and Response

The purpose of this policy is to define the process and establish criteria by which the school system responds to situations that threaten the safety or health of students and staff or are disruptive to the operation of a school, multiple schools, or the school system.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County recognizes that there will be occasions when it is necessary to respond to situations that threaten the safety or health of students and staff or are disruptive to the operation of a school, multiple schools, or the school system and that advance preparation and planning minimize risks inherent in any emergency situation. In certain instances, it may be necessary to take protective action, which may include closing a school, multiple schools, or the entire school system as a safety or health measure.

It is the intent of the Board to resume all normal operations, including instruction, as soon as feasible following an emergency.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to define the process and establish criteria by which the school system responds to situations that threaten the safety or health of students and staff or are disruptive to the operation of a school, multiple schools, or the school system.

III. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Crisis Intervention Team – A team of trained responders providing immediate and long-term consultation and direct support to school communities following a crisis.

  2. Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) – Procedures to ensure that the capability exists to continue essential functions during and after an extended emergency.

  3. Crisis – A traumatic event involving a student or staff member that interrupts the normal day-to-day functioning of a school (such as an accident, death, or long-term illness).

  4. Emergency – A circumstance that happens unexpectedly and requires immediate attention.

  5. Emergency Operations Center (EOC) – A location for centralized policy direction and control of emergencies.

  6. Extended Emergency – A severe or long-term situation that affects an individual school, multiple schools, or the entire school system.

  7. First Responder – A member of local, state, or federal law enforcement and/or the fire and rescue department.

  8. HCPSS Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) – A multi-hazard approach for the school system that addresses preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation to:

    1. An emergency, including a violent or traumatic event on school grounds, during school hours, or during a school-sponsored activity.

    2. Events in the community that affect normal school operations.

  9. Howard County Emergency Operations Plan – An emergency management system incorporating all aspects of pre-emergency preparedness and post-emergency response, recovery, and mitigation.

  10. Parent – Any one of the following, recognized as the adult(s) legally responsible for the child or vulnerable adult:

    1. Biological parent – A natural parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    2. Adoptive parent – A person who has legally adopted the student and whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    3. Custodian – A person or an agency appointed by the court as the legal custodian of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    4. Guardian – A person who had been placed by the court in charge of the affairs of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    5. Caregiver – An adult resident of Howard County who exercises care, custody, or control over the student but who is neither the biological parent nor legal guardian as long as the person satisfies the requirements of the Education Article, §7-101(c) (Informal Kinship Care).

    6. Foster parent – An adult approved to care for a child who has been placed in their home by a state agency or a licensed child placement agency as provided by the Family Law Article, §5-507.

  11. Protective Action – A specific, pre-defined response used in emergency situations to ensure the safety and well-being of those involved such as school closing, lockdown, modified lockdown, sheltering in place, evacuation, closing of a facility, etc.

  12. School-Based Crisis Intervention Team – Building-level team of trained crisis responders providing immediate and long-term support to staff and students following an emergency situation or crisis.

IV. Standards

  1. In times of emergency, the first priority of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) will be the safety of all students, staff, and other individuals in a school system facility or on school system property.

  2. HCPSS will develop an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) for each school and school system facility in consultation with other health and safety officials within the community. Copies of each school EOP will be kept on file at the school site and in the Office of Safety, Environment and Risk Management.

  3. HCPSS EOPs will align with the Howard County Emergency Operations Plan.

  4. HCPSS will participate with the Howard County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) if the nature of the emergency demands such participation.

  5. Emergency communications to staff, students, parents, and the community will be coordinated through the HCPSS EOC and through the Howard County EOC when the Howard County EOC is in operation.

  6. Staff will receive annual emergency training commensurate with their level of responsibility under their Emergency Operations Plan (EOP).

  7. School or building administration will assume their responsibility as incident commander and will work jointly within the command system established by first responders.

  8. Each school will have a School-Based Crisis Intervention Team that includes administrators, Student Services staff, and other members as identified by the school administrator, which will address the social-emotional needs of students and staff that result from an emergency situation or crisis.

  9. School staff will ensure that students are reunited with their parents as soon as it can be safely accomplished.

  10. When schools or the school system are closed for the day or dismiss early due to emergency situations such as inclement weather, all after-school and evening activities and all school and non-school-sponsored activities scheduled in school facilities are canceled. This does not apply to early dismissals that are scheduled as part of the academic calendar.

  11. At times when inclement weather threatens the safety of students and staff, the Superintendent/Designee may close or delay the opening of schools or the school system or dismiss early and will notify the Board of the decision.

  12. In the event that schools are closed for more days than those allocated on the academic calendar, the Superintendent may seek a waiver of the 180-day requirement by applying to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).

  13. The Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) will be used to ensure continuation of essential system operations in an extended emergency situation.

V. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/Designee will ensure that Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs) and Continuity of Operations Plans (COOPs) are developed, implemented, and exercised, and that appropriate training is provided for staff at each school and central administration facility.

  2. The Superintendent/Designee will establish procedures for the dissemination of school closing and other emergency announcements and for ensuring that parents and staff are informed of emergency communication procedures at the start of each school year.

  3. The Superintendent/Designee will authorize to close a school, multiple schools, or the school system when emergency conditions warrant closure and will consult with or provide notification to the Board as appropriate.

  4. The Superintendent/Designee will ensure the continuity of operations and the coordination of recovery efforts in the event of an extended emergency situation.

  5. In the event of an early dismissal, the school-based administrator will ensure that all students are released in accordance with established school dismissal procedures. Elementary students will be released in accordance with instructions provided annually by parents on the emergency procedures form.

  6. The Director of Transportation/Designee will assess conditions in certain weather-related situations.

  7. The Director of Student Services/Designee will activate the cluster Crisis Intervention Team when needed to help support school communities following a crisis.

  8. An HCPSS employee who supervises a school-sponsored afterschool, evening, weekend or off-campus event or activity is responsible for the safety of all participants.

  9. In the event of a closure, a late opening, or an early dismissal, employees of the HCPSS will work in compliance with the provisions of their respective collective bargaining agreement, office/department supervisor, or administrative directive.

VI. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop appropriate procedures to implement this policy.

VII. References

  1. Legal

    • U.S.C. 20, §1400; U.S.C. 29, §794; Rehabilitation Act of 1973, §504

    • Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §§9-104, 4-205, 6-401(d), 6-501(f), Title 9

    • Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §7-103

  2. Other Board Policies

  3. Relevant Data Sources

  4. Other

    • Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP)

    • HCPSS Emergency Operations Plan

    • School-Based Emergency Operations Plans

VIII. History

ADOPTED: January 5, 1971

REVIEWED:

MODIFIED:

REVISED: August 24, 1989, January 13, 2005, April 12, 2012

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2012