|THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT/THE
UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK/
ALBANY, NY 12234
PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY
AND COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION
October 4, 2001
Superintendents of Public and Nonpublic Schools
From: Richard P. Mills
Subject: Emergency Response Plans
Emphasizing Tolerance | Counseling & Mental Health ResourcesSince September 11, we have seen innumerable examples of the outstanding response of schools and communities to the tragic events of that day. One theme we have heard over and over again from school staff is how valuable the collaborative efforts undertaken during school safety plan development were in dealing with this emergency situation. Within minutes of the attack, you implemented building-level emergency response plans, activated communications protocols, assembled emergency response teams and made contact with community organizations. Students, parents and colleagues benefited from the stable and nurturing environments that you provided in the days following the tragedy. School personnel deserve to congratulate themselves for a job extremely well done. Many of you have already begun to discuss what you can do next and have asked us for guidance.
One activity that districts has found useful is debriefing. For example, some districts have convened their district-wide and building-level school safety teams to discuss their experiences. How did the plan work? What have they learned? What changes or adjustments are necessary to improve procedures? Rather than waiting until the end of the school year to do the required safety plan review, you may want to consider doing the review as part of a similar debriefing. You will soon be receiving from the Comprehensive Health and Pupil Services Team a notification regarding the results of the review of this year's plans. Your experiences during the past three weeks, and your debriefing, will be of particular value to you in making any modifications suggested by the reviewers.
Though we certainly hope never to face this situation again, the ongoing concern about terrorist activity makes plan review and revision especially important. Since the majority of school safety plans were not developed with terrorism in mind, we have enclosed a list of Key Emergency Management Points that you may find helpful when you conduct your review and make revisions.
I encourage you to make use of all available resources. The Guidance Document for School Safety Plans that you received last spring provides a comprehensive framework for school safety planning that addresses both process and content. In addition, you should also feel free to contact the New York State Center for School Safety (845-255-8989 orwww.mhric.org/scss or via email at email@example.com ) and/or your BOCES Health and Safety Coordinators for assistance and information.
In closing, I want to acknowledge the leadership that you provided during this time of crisis. I am sure that you will continue to provide a safe and secure environment for your students, staff, parents and community. If there is any way in which this Department can assist with that effort, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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