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Home » Student Success » Health & Safety » School Safety » Comprehensive Safety Planning Toolkit

Comprehensive Safety Planning Toolkit

Contact Information

Mike Donlin
School Safety Center Program Supervisor  

A Comprehensive School Safety Plan outlines how a district or school is prepared to address the Presidential Policy Directive-8 (PPD-8) 5 Mission Areas: prevention, mitigation, protection, response, and recovery from emergencies resulting from any and all threats and hazards.

RCW 28A.320.125 requires all school districts and schools in Washington state to have current comprehensive safe school plans, commonly referred to as Emergency Operation Plans (EOPs), and procedures in place. The legislation notes that coordinated plan development is essential to ensure the most effective response to any type of emergency situation.

There are several specific requirements identified in the RCW 28A.320.125:

  • Reference to all required safety policy and procedures,
  • Addressing prevention, mitigation, protection, response, and recovery from known threats and hazards,
  • Incident Command System (ICS) certification for principals,
  • Specified monthly drill exercise and documentation requirements,
  • A plan for student-family reunification,
  • Guidelines for meetings with law enforcement and other 1st responders,
  • Assessment of all threats and hazards,
  • Addressing the specific, special needs of students with disabilities and diverse language needs,
  • Training on plans and procedures,
  • Consideration of schools as community assets during emergency situations,
  • An inventory of all hazardous materials on school grounds,
  • Information on emergency supplies, communication, notification, and alert procedures,
  • Transportation procedures in the event of an emergency,
  • Annual review and update of the plan.

RCW 28A.300.645 requires monitoring on a 5-year cycle, at minimum.

The process for developing an EOP is more important than the product. As EOP plans are developed, practiced, reviewed, and revised, as requirements change, the product (the plan) will also change. However, the process of developing and revising the plan will remain constant.

The process of developing EOPs follows two nationally recognized Federal planning guidance documents:

Both of the above documents were developed by partnering Federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  

6 Step Planning Process

The planning process recognizes the unique characteristics of each individual school, district, and situation. The process follows six steps:

  1. Form a collaborative team
  2. Assess and understand the situation
  3. Determine safety goals and objectives
  4. Develop specific action plans
  5. Write, review, and approve the plan
  6. Train, teach, practice, review and revise the plan

Planning Principles

The planning process follows 6 principles. These principles states that the process:

  • Is supported by leadership: superintendents, principals, boards, etc.
  • Is collaborative throughout: no one person or group can do it all alone
  • Uses customized assessments: threats and hazards, assets, capacity, climate, and culture
  • Considers all threats and hazards: natural, technological, biological, human/adversarial
  • Addresses the needs of the whole school community: all students, staff, families
  • Considers events which might happen during and outside the school day, on and off campus

5 Mission Areas

The EOP planning process addresses the Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8) 5 Mission Areas. As defined by FEMA, and adapted to the specific needs of districts and schools, these 5 mission areas address:  

  • Prevention means the action districts and schools take to prevent a threatened or actual incident from occurring.  It is important to note that not all threats or hazards can be prevented.    
  • Mitigation means the preparation to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an event or emergency.
  • Protection focuses on ongoing actions that protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, networks, and property from a threat or hazard.
  • Response refers to stabilizing an emergency once it has happened, to reestablish a safe and secure environment, and to facilitate the transition to recovery.
  • Recovery refers to actions necessary to assist districts and schools in restoring a safe learning environment.

3-Part Plan Format

The traditional format of an EOP has three major sections:

  • The Basic Plan is the district or the school’s overarching approach to emergency operations, regardless of threat, hazard, or function.
  • Functional Annexes is the “how-to” actions to be followed in an emergency.
  • Threat and Hazard Specific Annexes detail to how each function will be carried out in a specific type of threat or hazard (e.g., hurricane, bullying, active shooter, etc.).

EOP Planning Specific Resources

  • Guide for Developing HQ School EOP Plans
    • Prepared by the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools, this guide is the result of collaborative efforts among the USDOE, FEMA, Homeland Security, and several other federal agencies. To learn more, read the full EOP plan overview.
  • The Role of Districts in Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans: A Companion to the School Guide
    • This guide is the district-level companion to the School Guide. It walks through roles and responsibilities for district-level administrators and staffs.
    • The District Guide identifies responsibilities including:
      • Coordinating with schools and community partners to help ensure collaboration and integration with district, local, regional, state, tribal, and federal agency EOPs;
      • Providing planning parameters for use by schools throughout the entire district, and
      • Supporting schools at each step as they develop all-hazard EOPs to fit each school’s individual needs.
      • This guide applies the same planning principles, and follows the same six-step process and complete the tasks associated with each step. The District Guide, however, provides more district-focused information.
  • Emergency Management Virtual Toolkit for Education Agencies Serving K-12 Schools 
    • This introduction to the web tools for K-12 districts and schools are used to provide information on EOP plan development, guidance, trainings, and tools. This links to the REMS Emergency Management Virtual Toolkit with resources to support district and school efforts to build capacity in emergency management and preparedness.

EOP Assist 2.0 Software

One of the interactive tools is EOP Assist, a web-accessible software application for state agencies, school districts, and schools to host on their own servers. It guides planning team members through a process which will result in the creation of a safety plan built on Federal guidelines for developing a high-quality school EOP. All plans developed through this tool will be both customizable and downloadable.

REMS Resources

Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

MTSS is an action framework that structures service delivery to assist staff and students to create a culture for learning. Within the context of school safety, MTSS also applies to the Multi-Tiered Safety System, with each tier identifying policies, procedures, products, and specific populations involved in developing the safety framework.

Within the context of RCW 28A.320.125 and comprehensive school safety, there are several other RCWs for schools and districts to consider and address in their EOP planning process. These include:

  • RCW 28A.320.126, Emergency response system.
    • RCW 28A.320.128, Notice and disclosure policies—Threats of violence—Student conduct—Immunity for good faith notice—Penalty.
    • RCW 38.52.030, Director—Comprehensive emergency management plan—Interagency coordination and prioritization of continuity of operations planning—Catastrophic incidents, program to provide information and education.
    • WAC 51-54-0400, Chapter 4—Emergency planning and preparedness.
  • Response to Emotional & Behavioral Distress
    • RCW 28A.320.127, Plan for recognition, screening, and response to emotional or behavioral distress in students, including possible sexual abuse.
    • RCW 28A.320.1271, Model school district plan for recognition, initial screening, and response to emotional or behavioral distress in students.
  • Threat Assessment
  • Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB)
  • School Resource Officer Program (Updated as per HB 1214: Safety and Security Staff Program)
  • Firearms on School Grounds
  • Searches
  • Gangs in Schools
  • Juvenile Sex Offenders in Schools
    • RCW 9A.44.130, Registration of sex offenders and kidnapping offenders—Definition.
    • RCW 13.40.215, Juveniles convicted of violent or sex offense or stalking—Notification.
  • Tobacco, Alcohol, Drugs
    • RCW 28A.210.310 Prohibition on use of tobacco products on school property.
    • RCW 69.50.435 Violations committed in or on certain public places or facilities.
    • RCW 69.50.445 Opening package of or consuming marijuana, useable marijuana, marijuana-infused products, or marijuana concentrates in view of general public.
  • Transportation

WSSDA Policies and Procedures

Many safety-related RCWs require districts to have policies and procedures in place. Model policy and procedures are developed by the WA State School Directors Association (WSSDA) and made available to member districts to use in developing their district policies and procedures. Numbers may change across districts, however, sample policies and frequently used numbers include the following:

Topic Frequently Used Policy/Procedure Numbers
Safe School Plans 3432/ 3432P
Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) 6580
Emergency Procedures 3432/ 3432P
Firearms and Weapons 3428/ 3428P
Gang Activity 3433/ 3433P
Gender Inclusive Schools 3211/ 3211P
HIB/Bullying 3207/ 3207P
Notification of Threats or Harm 4310/ 4310P
Notifications 3143/ 3143P
Restraint and Isolation 3246/ 3246P
Sexual Harassment 3208/ 3208P
SRO Program 4311
Threat Assessment 3225/ 3225P

Comprehensive School Safety Coordinators

In 2020, the legislature funded each of the nine educational service districts (ESD) to provide a network of support for school districts to develop and implement comprehensive suicide prevention and behavioral health supports for students and support for School-Based Threat Assessment Programs. The Comprehensive School Safety Coordinators (CSSC), was funded in 2021. 

The CSSC is responsible for:

  • helping plan, coordinate, and deliver required training 
  • providing technical assistance to school districts 
  • developing collaborative relationships with community organizations, private schools, businesses, and others interested in supporting safe schools 
  • and providing other services consistent with state and federal school safety requirements 

CSSC ESD Contacts

ESD 101 SallieJo Evers

ESD 105 Chris Weedin

ESD 112 Don Lawry

ESD 113 Dan Beaudoin

ESD 114 Mark McVey

ESD 121 Lawrence Davis

ESD 123 Shelby Jensen

ESD 171 Mike Dingle

ESD 189 Steven Dodson