Lessons shared as spotlight shines on school disaster preparedness and recovery

From CSBA Blog: For More Info, Go Here..

A thorough chain of command, well-prepared emergency plans, and strong relations with both local and state emergency officials are critical for school districts to have in place before a disaster strikes. And when a disaster does strike, it is paramount to document and keep as many records as possible — despite being in a chaotic, fluid and often devastating situation.

These lessons learned were shared March 6 by Sonoma County officials who led districts and school communities through the area’s deadly October 2017 wildfires. They spoke at a California Department of Education event, the first in a series of workshops focused on how district and school leaders can better prepare for and respond to natural disasters. CDE staff and representatives from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services were also featured panelists.

The heightened focus comes as natural disasters are a new normal. Since 2017, 12 schools in California have been destroyed, 14 have been damaged, and 7,000 students and 900 staff members have lost their homes, according to the CDE.

It also follows emotional testimony to the State’s Assembly Education Committee in February from educators and leaders on the impacts of wildfires in their communities. Butte County Office of Education trustee and CSBA Immediate Past President Mike Walsh was among those who spoke.

“Just a few years ago, this would not have been a topic that would not have been lifted up for districts,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said on March 6. The new normal now, he said, is that the CDE is working with many partners to address the needs of districts as they relate to wildfires and other disasters.

As part of the effort, the department has developed disaster preparedness resources. Items range from checklists to air quality guides to information on trauma counseling. Additionally, questions related to emergency preparedness, response and recovery can be submitted at any time to EmergencyServices@cde.ca.gov.

Similar to the state, CSBA is developing resources that will help schools better prepare for, mitigate and recover from wildfires and other natural disasters.

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