RationaleThis document has been developed based on the BC Ministry of Education and Child Care: Emergency Management Planning Guide (2015).
Each BC Waldorf School has additional, separate, and specific protocols and procedures for their school. Emergency management documents specific to a school, including Emergency Response Plans, are stored on school sites and communicated as needed.
This policy applies to all employees of BC Waldorf Schools while at work or on a school sanctioned event with students. Preparing for emergencies includes consideration for the care of students, employees, volunteers and community members.
Emergency Management is an ongoing process to prevent and mitigate, plan and prepare for, respond to, and recover from an incident. Planning and preparing can lessen the impact of emergencies on the health and safety of employees and students at BC Waldorf Schools as well as each school’s facilities and operations. Although it is not possible to anticipate every type of school disturbance that could threaten the safety of employees and students, this document together with each school’s Emergency Response Plan establishes procedures to prevent emergencies, or to contain the potential negative impact of emergencies, should they occur. These procedures and principles can be adapted to unique situations as required.
The following three definitions are taken from the BC Ministry of Education and Child Care Emergency Management Planning Guide for Schools, Districts and Authorities. Please note that these three terms are often used interchangeably.
The following overarching principles apply at all times in BC Waldorf Schools:
Mitigation and Prevention
Emergencies are unpredictable. We usually have little warning that an event or series of events may cause a massive disruption in our lives and our communities. As one of the major areas in which people gather, schools are places where emergency preparedness is critically important to the well-being of students and employees, and to the parents who are entrusting their children to the care of educators in BC Waldorf Schools.
There are many hazards that could affect BC Waldorf Schools due to geographical location and naturally occurring events, including but not limited to the following:
An ALL HAZARD approach focuses on planning that involves a small number of responses that can be used in different types of emergencies. The five basic ALL HAZARD approaches are: drop/cover/hold on, evacuate, lockdown, lockout, and shelter in place.
Probably the best working scenario for emergency preparedness is an earthquake, as it can produce the most devastating effects and occurs without any warning. Generally speaking, if we are prepared for an earthquake, we will likely be prepared for other hazards.
A flood is defined as a situation where water levels in a watercourse exceed the channel banks.
Some BC Waldorf Schools are located near waterways such as oceans, rivers, streams, and creeks which places some of them at risk for flooding. Often in BC, the main flood threat occurs from fall storms and spring thaw, particularly when snowfall is followed by heavy rains.
BC Waldorf Schools are committed to maintaining safe learning environments for all students and as such recognize that, in life threatening situations, student safety is best achieved by ‘locking down’ school buildings. In such instances the specific school Principal shall suspend the normal daily routine and require all students to remain in or proceed to designated areas within the school until such time as the police determine it is safe for the regular routine to resume.
Emergency lockdown procedures shall be initiated in case of a high risk incident involving weapons, hazardous environmental situation, wildlife, severe weather warnings, serious incidents in the community, unauthorized entry, hostage taking, hold-up or other dangerous or violent incidents which could pose an immediate threat to life.
Responsibilities of the Principal
The Principal at a BC Waldorf School is responsible for the operation and management of the school including knowing what to do in an emergency to protect students and employees. First responders such as firefighters and police will respond as available but it is incumbent on the Principal of a BC Waldorf School to know how to communicate and work with employees until such time as first responders arrive and the management of the event becomes a shared task.
In preparation for emergencies, BC Waldorf School Principals:
In the event of an emergency or disaster at a BC Waldorf School, the Principal:
The school specific Emergency Management Director:
Responsibilities of Employees
Teachers, education assistants, clerical staff, custodial staff, and others are expected to be familiar with their school’s Emergency Response Plan and to understand their particular role. This may include, but is not limited to:
Responsibilities of Administrative Coordinator
The Principal will appoint an Administrative Coordinator for the functioning of a school’s Emergency Response Plan. This person coordinates the responsibilities of administrative staff who will:
Responsibilities of Emergency Management BC
The main provincial agency in British Columbia with responsibility during emergencies that broadly impact BC communities is Emergency Management British Columbia (EMBC). EMBC was formed to be the lead coordinating agency in the provincial government for all emergency management activities. Each region in BC has an operations center for support of emergency planning and response.
Responsibilities of Local Municipalities
In the case of emergencies that require coordinated support to the site level, local municipalities will activate emergency operations centres to manage the consequences of the event. Municipalities have capabilities, plans and procedures to provide for the safety of citizens during emergencies.
Responsibilities of First Responders
First Responders work at the site level of an event and include police, fire, ambulance, and other municipal and regional agencies as required. Activities of First Responders include securing the perimeter, medical response, firefighting, and managing crowds or evacuation zones.
BC Emergency Response Management System
The British Columbia Emergency Response Management System (BCERMS) is a comprehensive management system (pdf) based upon the internationally recognized Incident Command System (ICS) that ensures a coordinated and organized response and recovery to all emergency incidents and disasters. It provides the framework for a standardized emergency response in British Columbia.
BCERMS has four operational levels of response (site operations, site support, provincial regional, and provincial central). This policy is focused on Site Operations and Site Support as most emergencies will involve these two levels (pp 55-56 of BCERMS).
Incident Command System
The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardized on-site management system designed to enable effective, efficient incident management by integrating a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications, operating within a common organizational structure. The ICS is used to manage an incident and can be used equally well for both small and large situations.
There are potentially up to four incident commanders on site who will work together within their different legal and functional responsibilities to coordinate, plan and interact effectively to meet the goals of saving lives and minimizing damage:
Decisions are made in a consultative fashion, ensuring that the best decision is made with information available at the time. Respect for each area of expertise is maintained so that the final decision pertaining to an area of expertise belongs to the commander in charge of that area.
Mitigation and prevention include actions to eliminate or reduce hazards and their impacts should an emergency occur. The Administrative Coordinator at the school should coordinate regular assessments identifying hazards to be mitigated, and assessing and reducing other risks.
There are four categories of hazard: Natural, Human/Wildlife-caused, Technological, and Biological.
Site Hazard Assessment and Reduction
BC Waldorf Schools will evaluate facilities on an ongoing basis anticipating the potential for an emergency and taking action in advance to mitigate damage and potential injury.
School Principals will oversee annual safety assessments with the goal of identifying potential hazards in and around school facilities. Examples of possible resulting actions that may be taken are: securing large pieces of furniture to the walls; securing hazardous chemicals in locked cabinets; ensuring clear building access and egresses; etc.
Each BC Waldorf School has a Site Inspection Checklist and School Earthquake/Flood Hazard Assessment Checklist. Site hazard assessments will be completed before students arrive in September.
Threat assessment is a multi-disciplinary process used by BC Waldorf Schools to investigate specific behaviours, for example threats to harm self or others. Direct threats of harm or even information that someone may be exhibiting worrisome behaviours or could be a danger can lead to a threat assessment being initiated.
The school can activate a threat assessment to determine the level of concern/ threat and then respond accordingly.
Planning and Preparedness
Preparedness involves establishing authorities and responsibilities for emergency actions and garnering the resources to support them. BC Waldorf Schools assign or recruit staff for emergency management duties; procure and maintain equipment, supplies and other resources for carrying out assigned duties; and practice drills and exercises.
Emergency Plan - Physical Set-Up
Written Emergency Procedures and Contacts
Each BC Waldorf School’s Emergency Response Plan information is hosted in a school specific location such as the school office. This information will be located in a readily accessible area and easily identifiable. The information will indicate site-specific Emergency Response Plan information such as, but not limited to:
Each BC Waldorf School has directory maps posted throughout the facility indicating nearest and safest exit routes.
ClassroomsEach BC Waldorf School classroom is equipped with a “grab and go” emergency kit. Kits are checked for inventory throughout the year. Kits consist of items such as, but not limited to:
Emergency Equipment Storage Area
Each BC Waldorf School will store additional emergency supplies on school grounds. Stored emergency supplies are checked for inventory throughout the year. Stored emergency supplies may include but are not limited to:
Emergency Response Protocols
BC Waldorf Schools utilize many or all of the following common All Hazards Emergency Response Protocols:
For procedural examples of each response protocol see BC Waldorf Collective Policy #502 Emergency Management Procedures - Example in the Employees Policy Section 500.
Emergency Student Release Plan
BC Waldorf Schools collect emergency release information as part of the school registration process. This information becomes part of a school’s Emergency Response Plan’s written procedures and contacts information.
Each BC Waldorf School will have a school specific procedure for reuniting students with parents/guardians in the event of an emergency.
Each BC Waldorf School is prepared to maintain communication on two levels:
Preparation of the Students
For school specific drill procedures, schedules, and log records, see school specific information. BC Waldorf School Principals, or delegate, will ensure drill logs are managed and maintained.
In accordance with the BC Fire Code 2018, Section 18.104.22.168, BC Waldorf Schools will administer total evacuation fire drills at least three times in each of the fall and spring school terms, for a total of six drills each school year.
BC Waldorf Schools will administer earthquake drills at least three times each school year.
BC Waldorf Schools will administer lockdown drills at least once each school year.
Preparation of Employees
Training and Orientation
BC Waldorf School Principals will manage emergency procedure and drill training of employees before the start of each school year. Training will include review of/orientation to the school’s Emergency Response Plan including all procedures associated with all hazards. Updated information and procedures for students and employees with support or medical needs will be included in training.
Any employees new to a BC Waldorf School within a school year will receive an orientation of the school’s Emergency Response Plan before they begin work.
Responsibility of Employees
BC Waldorf Schools require that, during a disaster, employees must safeguard the children under their care and not leave their work assignment under any circumstances until officially released by the Principal or designated person. In some cases, it will be necessary to receive advice from the Municipal Emergency Operations Centre or RCMP/local law enforcement before advising that it is safe to release students.
Each BC Waldorf School has a specific primary critical facility for coordination of non-routine emergencies. In addition, first response facilities are of critical importance in carrying out emergency response activities. First response facilities include police, fire and emergency health care centers, along with pre-selected congregate shelter facilities. See specific school information regarding critical facilities.
It is important to note that the all-hazards approaches be utilized in context. For example, in the event of an earthquake, it is generally expected that the response will first be drop-cover-hold followed by evacuation. However, it may be that the situation is such that returning to or remaining in the building or one part of the building is safer than being outside. For example, an evacuation following a mild earthquake that occurred during a blizzard may not be an appropriate action. Whilst a plan can seek to address the best interests of the students and employees in a particular circumstance, common sense on behalf of employees and guidance from the Site Incident Commander must also be taken into account when responding in an emergency situation.
When an emergency occurs, it is too late to refer to a manual. Everyone must know their role and set the plan into motion. Response involves implementation of each BC Waldorf School’s/Site’s Emergency Plan, and includes the following actions that may take place in this or another order, or simultaneously:
Example Emergency Response Procedures for each type of emergency can be found in the Employees 500 policy Section, 502 - Emergency Response Procedures Example v1.
Recovery procedures begin when the initial emergency has been brought under control and all students have been returned to the care of their parents/guardians. At this time the school moves from Emergency Response to Emergency Recovery.
A critical part of the recovery process is attending to the emotional or mental health needs of employees, students and their families. A return to normalcy is not only important for school communities, but also for broader communities as it encourages the re-establishment of routine (e.g. families taking children to school, going to work etc.). To ensure this can happen as soon as possible BC Waldorf Schools have recovery plans in place that address the following five areas of recovery in school specific ways. See school specific Emergency Response Plans for school specific information about recovery plans.
Emotional and Psychological Recovery
Emotional and psychological recovery involves caring for the mental health of those individuals in the community who experienced or witnessed trauma, whether as a result of an emergency, disaster or critical incident. The targeted approach should consider the following and should be implemented without unnecessary delay:
Physical and Structural Recovery
Following a disaster, it may be necessary to repair or rebuild various structures at a school. For many this can extend the trauma as the return to normalcy is delayed. While the technical details of repair or rebuilding are primarily the responsibility of the Board of Directors/Trustees and Administrators/Managers, the faculty and staff need to ensure, to the fullest extent possible, that student and school life is as normal as can be and that students are supported through the construction transition.
Continuity of Operations
Communities that have suffered serious trauma have discovered that reopening schools is a critical part of community healing. Once schools are operating normally, the rest of the community can begin to return to normal as well.
The Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) is implemented when all or part of a BC Waldorf School campus(es) are closed temporarily or inaccessible. The intent of a COOP is to ensure the continuation of critical school services for an extended duration of time following the initial emergency or threat. This duration of time may range from a few hours to many days or even months.
Planning for the continuity of a school in the aftermath of a disaster is a complex task as there are innumerable eventualities following an emergency event. Each BC Waldorf School will have a unique COOP designed to meet the needs of their community and work with what is possible at their location. Each BC Waldorf School will describe their COOP in school specific Emergency Management Plans.
Restoration of Academic Learning
The primary purpose of schools is the education of our students. The restoration of academic learning may involve temporary arrangements and special accommodations such as described in each school’s COOP depending on the nature of the emergency. The intent of recovery in this area is that learning will be disrupted for the least amount of time. This must be tempered, however, with a need to care for and attend to the emotional well being of students and employees and this may delay a full return to routine.
Debriefing after an emergency is a vital part of recovery. Not only will the debrief provide vital information to the specific school, it will also be an opportunity for those involved to talk about their experience. Debriefing can be a traumatic experience so care must be taken in how the debriefing sessions are characterized and facilitated. Some BC Waldorf Schools will employ the services of professional facilitators if deemed necessary.
BC Waldorf Schools recognizes that an emergency does not always affect only the school. Trauma can be felt far beyond a school, creating ripples throughout an entire community. Debriefing with all those persons who were impacted by, or instrumental in carrying out the response, is critical and, while the affected BC Waldorf School is not solely responsible, they can play an important role in helping to heal the community.
Some things to consider when debriefing:
BC Waldorf Collective - AWNSA Registered Initiative, Associate, and Full Member Waldorf Schools of BC