KBS Reference Desk: Required Provisions for EOPs

Q:        I am in the process of reviewing our Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) in preparation for the upcoming school year. Are there any new provisions that we should include resulting from the recent legislative session?

 A:        Yes! Senate Bill 11 outlined new measures for school safety and mental health promotion in public schools, and included eight (8) new provisions that must be present in a district’s EOP.

 Senate Bill 11 was the major school safety bill to come out of the most recent legislative session. It set out to tackle new facilities standards for ensuring safe school buildings, as well as new health curriculum geared at increasing awareness of mental health matters. Among the more concrete aspects of Senate Bill 11, the law adds new required provisions that must be addressed in each District’s “Multi-Hazard Emergency Operations Plan” (or EOP). In addition to the required elements of EOPs already in existence, the following new required provisions were added:

  1.         Provisions establishing the chain of command for decision-making during emergency situations, including who will be in charge if the Superintendent is not available during an emergency;

2.         Provisions addressing physical/psychological safety of students and staff while responding to dangerous scenarios (e.g., natural disasters, active shooters, etc.);

3.         Provisions for ensuring the safety of students in portable buildings (even if you do not currently utilize portables on your campus);

4.         Provisions for ensuring safety of those with disabilities during a disaster or emergency situation;

5.         Provisions for providing immediate notification to parents or guardians in circumstances involving a significant threat to students, with identification of the individual in charge of disseminating and responding to those notifications; [Note: We advise that “immediate” be interpreted to mean notification to parents as soon as practicable and safe. Law enforcement should be involved in determining when it is safe to alert parents of an emergency on campus.]

6.         Provisions for supporting psychological safety during the response and recovery phase following a disaster or emergency situation that address mental health of students and staff, and align with “best practices” in trauma-informed and grief-informed care; [Note: We recommend having your counseling staff review the specific provisions of this new requirement in SB 11 to ensure that your practices align with the counseling standards identified.]

7.         Procedures for providing substitute teachers access to campus buildings and materials necessary to carry out the duties of a district employee during emergencies; and

8.         The name of each individual on the school safety and security committee and the date of each committee meeting during the preceding year.

Senate Bill 11 does not require use of any specific language to satisfy each of the provisions above, however a closer read of the actual text of the law will be helpful when determining what parts of your EOP may need updating. You can find the full text of the bill here:

 https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/86R/billtext/pdf/SB00011F.pdf#navpanes=0

Look to page 14, subsection (f) for general information concerning EOPs. Direction pertaining to whether your district requires board approval of your revised EOP can be found at policy CKC. For specific questions regarding compliance, we recommend contacting your school’s attorney.