Legislative Guidance: Emergency Operations Plans

Emergency Operations Plan Legislative Update: August 2019 As part of our 86th Texas Legislative Update
Series, this video addresses Emergency Operations Plans. The passage of SB11 has resulted in numerous
amendments to Chapter 37, Section 108 of the Texas Education Code. School districts, open-enrollment charters, and public junior college Emergency Operations
Plans (EOPs) must now address prevention, in addition to mitigation, preparedness, response,
and recovery as defined by the TxSSC in conjunction with the governor’s office of homeland security
and the commissioner of education/higher education, as applicable. Once these definitions are released, they
will be communicated to districts and charter schools.

The EOP must provide for training in responding to an emergency for district employees, including
substitute teachers, and measures to ensure district employees, including substitute teachers,
have classroom access to a telephone, including a cellular telephone, or another electronic
communication device allowing for immediate contact with district emergency services or
emergency service agencies, law enforcement agencies, health departments, and fire departments. The EOP must also provide for measures to
ensure district communications technology and infrastructure are adequate to allow for
communication during an emergency.

If the EOP applies to a school district or open-enrollment charter school, the plan must
provide for mandatory drills and exercises to prepare district students and employees
for responding to an emergency as required in Section 114 of the Texas Education Code,
Chapter 37. This newly added section will be addressed
later in this presentation. A school district or open-enrollment charter
must include the following in its multihazard EOP: a chain of command that designates the
individual responsible (and others in their absence) for making final decisions during
a disaster or emergency situation; and must include provisions that address physical
and psychological safety for responding to a natural disaster, active shooter, and any
other dangerous scenario identified by the Texas Education Agency or the Texas School
Safety Center.

This will be included in the updated EOP toolkit
provided by the Texas School Safety Center. The EOP must also include: provisions for
ensuring the safety of students in portable buildings; The passing of SB 11 has charged
the Texas School Safety Center to develop a list of best practices for ensuring the
safety of public school students receiving instruction in portable buildings. The Center is also tasked to provide information
regarding the list of best practices to school districts using portable buildings for student
instruction. This list is being finalized and will be updated
and marked prominently on the Texas School Safety Center website by September 1, 2019. The EOP must include provisions for ensuring
that students and district personnel with disabilities are provided equal access to
safety during a disaster or emergency situation; and provisions for providing immediate notification
to parents or guardians in circumstances involving a significant threat to the health or safety
of students, including the identification of the individual with responsibility for
overseeing the notification.

In addition, school district and open-enrollment
charter EOPs must provide provisions for supporting the psychological safety of students, district
personnel, and the community during the response and recovery phase following a disaster or
emergency situation. These support provisions must:
be aligned with best practice-based programs and research-based practices recommended under
Section 161.325 of the Health and Safety Code; must include strategies for ensuring required
training for suicide prevention, grief-informed and trauma-informed care, is provided to appropriate
school personnel; and include training on integrating psychological
safety and suicide prevention strategies into the EOP. These trainings must come from a list of recommended
training established by the commissioner and the TxSSC. Further, these support provisions must also include strategies and procedures for integrating
and supporting physical and psychological safety and implementing trauma-informed policies. Once these provisions are released, they will
be communicated to districts and charter schools. The multihazard EOP for a school district
or open-enrollment charter must also include: a policy for providing a substitute teacher
access to school campus buildings and materials necessary to carry out the duties of an employee
during an emergency or a mandatory emergency drill and
the name of each individual on the safety and security committee along with the date
of each committee meeting during the preceding year.

HB 2195 also amends section 108 by requiring the EOP to include a policy for responding
to an active shooter emergency. Another direct result of the passage of SB 11 was the addition of Section 1081 in Chapter
37 of the Texas Education Code. This new section addresses the requirement
of public hearings on multihazard EOP noncompliance for public school districts and open-enrollment
charters. The Texas School Safety Center is now charged
with reviewing Emergency Operations Plans for non compliance. If the board of trustees receives a notice of noncompliance, the board must hold a public
hearing to notify the public of: the district’s failure to submit or correct deficiencies
in a multihazard EOP or failure to report the results of a safety and security audit
to the TxSSC as required by law; the dates during which the district has not
been in compliance; and the names of each member of the board of trustees and the superintendent
serving in that capacity during the dates the district was not in compliance. Each of these must be provided in writing
to each person in attendance at the hearing.

At this hearing the district must give members of the public reasonable opportunity to appear
before the board and speak on the issue of the district’s noncompliance. The district must also provide written confirmation
to the Texas School Safety Center that this public meeting was held. Section 1082 was also added to Chapter 37
of the Texas Education Code. This section addresses additional requirements
for public school district or open-enrollment charter schools regarding multihazard EOP
noncompliance. If the Texas Education Agency receives notice from the Texas School Safety Center of a school
district’s failure to submit a multihazard EOP, the commissioner may appoint a conservator,
who may order the district to adopt, implement, and submit a multihazard EOP. If a district fails to comply with a conservator’s order within the timeframe imposed by the
commissioner, the commissioner may appoint a board of managers to oversee the operations
of the district.

The commissioner may adopt rules to administer this section. As rules are adopted, they will be communicated
to districts and charter schools. TEC Chapter 37.114 was also added as a result
of the passage of SB11. This section addresses emergency evacuations
and mandatory school drills for public school districts and open-enrollment charters. Specifically, it states that the commissioner, in consultation with the TxSSC and the state
fire marshal, must adopt rules that: provide procedures for evacuating and securing school
property during an emergency; and that designate the number of mandatory school drills to be
conducted each semester, not to exceed eight drills, including designating the number of
evacuation fire exit drills and lockdown, lockout, shelter-in-place, and evacuation
drills.

To be clear, this states that no more than 8 drills may be required by the commissioner
during a semester; however, districts may conduct additional drills to meet the district
or school’s needs. The Texas School Safety Center is currently
working with the state fire marshal and TEA to develop these requirements. As rules are adopted, they will be communicated
to districts and charter schools. SB11 added section 2071 to Chapter 37 of the
TEC. This new section addresses the requirement
of school district, open-enrollment charter, and public junior college multihazard EOPs
to be submitted to the TxSSC for review and verification. The TxSSC is required to establish a random or need-based cycle for the center’s review
and verification of multihazard EOPs. This cycle must provide for each plan to be
reviewed at regular intervals as determined by the center. A school district, open-enrollment charter school, or public junior college district
must submit its multihazard EOP on request of the center, and in accordance with the
center’s review cycle. The TxSSC must review each district’s multihazard EOP submitted and verify that the plan meets
the requirements of Section 37.108, or provide the district with written notice describing
the deficiencies and stating that the district must correct the plan deficiencies and resubmit
to the center.

As this cycle is developed, it will be communicated
to districts and charter schools. If a district fails to submit its multihazard
EOP to the TxSSC for review, the center will provide the district with written notice stating
that the district has failed to submit a plan and must submit a plan to the center for review
and verification. The TxSSC may approve a multihazard EOP that has deficiencies if the district or charter
school submits a revised plan that the center determines will correct the deficiencies. If three months after the date of initial notification of a plan’s deficiencies or
failure to submit a plan a district or charter school has not corrected the deficiencies
or has failed to submit a plan, TxSSC will provide written notice to the district or
charter school and TEA that the district or charter school has not complied and must comply
immediately. Please note the Texas School Safety Center
plans to work with any entity in addressing any plan deficiencies to enter into compliance.

Once this process is finalized, it will be
communicated to districts and charter schools. If a school district still has not corrected the plan deficiencies or has failed to submit
a plan six months after the date of initial notification, the TxSSC shall provide written
notice to the district stating that the district must hold a public hearing and that the commissioner
is authorized to appoint a conservator. Any document or information collected, developed, or produced during the review and verification
of multihazard EOPs is not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552 of the Government Code.

Again, the Texas School Safety Center plans
to work with any entity in addressing any plan deficiencies to enter into compliance. Once this process is finalized, it will be
communicated to districts and charter schools. For additional information and resources please
visit the Texas School Safety Center website..

As found on YouTube

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