Note: This page is part of the Governor's News Archive, which holds press releases from January 2009 through September 2011. Since October 2011, recent news can be found in the Newsroom and archived news is available at news.delaware.gov.
March 9, 2011
Governor Moves Forward with School Safety Plans
Governor Jack Markell and Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security Lewis D. Schiliro, a former FBI director in New York City, announced the first step in creating comprehensive safety plans for all public schools in Delaware, proposing the creation of a model plan for schools to use as well as completion of plans for a number of Delaware schools over the next year.
“Our schools may face a variety of threats such as natural hazards, fires, chemical spills, or school violence,” said Governor Markell. “We know that in most school incidents, school administrators and educators are the first responders so it is important that each school be aware of potential threats and be prepared to manage them should they occur.”
With Delaware students spending more than a third of their time within an educational setting it is imperative that school safety be a priority, Governor Markell said. Having public safety experts create a model plan for schools to utilize is the first step toward better preparing for any type of emergency.
“The model will be prepared as a standardized resource for school administrators to use in creating their comprehensive emergency plans. It will contain a scalable and flexible set of checklists that can be customized by administrators to address all-hazards preparedness. It will enhance multiagency coordination between the schools, stakeholders and first responder community to foster an integrated approach to emergency management and incident response,” said Secretary Schiliro.
Once the model is complete, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security will begin this initiative by utilizing Delaware State Police School Resource Officers (SROs). The SROs are familiar with the model plan which provides a statewide framework by which all schools can develop an integrated approach to managing incidents that impact the schools’ students, staff, campus and surrounding community. For school year 2011-2012, SROs will work with school administrators, parents, fire departments, medical responders and others to complete comprehensive safety plans for the schools where they are assigned.
Potential emergencies to be covered by the model plan include bomb threats, bus accidents, chemical spills, fires, gas leaks, kidnapping, shooting, severe weather, student riots and utility failures, among other potential situations.
The model plan will be based on the four phases of emergency management: prevention, protection, response and recovery. The prevention phase covers hazard identification and risk assessment. The protection phase defines the strategies, guidance and procedures for incident management and assigns functional responsibilities within each school’s structure and how it relates to the emergency response community. The response phase provides checklists, processes and procedures to effectively and efficiently implement a safe and coordinated response to all-hazards incidents. The final phase, recovery, provides a process to restore the school community to pre-incident condition and/or normal operations.
There is currently a requirement that schools have an emergency response, but no requirement as to what details must be covered and the details and adequacy of the plans vary widely from school to school, Schiliro said.
SROs and others will begin their work with school officials in September. The individual plans for each school will be finished by the end of next school year.