In an emergency situation, top priorities tend to be making sure everyone in the building is safe and getting people out as quickly and efficiently as possible. But there's another key player in a school's emergency response plan that shouldn't be overlooked: parents.
Even though they're not typically present on campus when disaster strikes, parents should be an integral consideration when formulating your emergency response plan. It's important not only to keep students safe while on-site, but also to make sure that parents are kept apprised of the situation and receive updates as they become available.
Growing parental concern
Recent years have seen parents growing increasingly concerned about their children's safety while at school. In fact, parents are not only becoming more concerned, but they're worrying about different things than they have in previous generations. According to a report from Save The Children, the principal cause of worry regarding emergency safety for parents was a school shooting, with 70 percent of respondents indicating they were at least somewhat concerned - and 35 percent claiming they were extremely concerned.
Unfortunately, parents spent an average of only 20 percent as much time on emergency preparedness as they did on back-to-school preparation this past summer. Even worse, a large number of parents are ignorant as to their child's school's emergency plans. The source reported that 67 percent of parents didn't know the frequency with which the school's emergency drills were practiced. The upshot is that not only are parents less likely to be prepared in the event of an emergency, they're also less inclined to benefit from the peace of mind that comes with a fully developed crisis response plan, with roughly two-thirds of parental guardians in the dark regarding school practices.
The key ingredient missing in a comprehensive emergency response plan is an open line of communication between schools and parents. Guardians need to be informed not only of their children's safety, but also of your school's process. This can provide important peace of mind when parents know how exactly administrators and staff are helping to protect their children. Some schools have already been experimenting with mass communication technology through things such as email notifications and text message notification systems. However, social media platforms, smartphones and tablet technology offer new avenues for schools and parents to explore in terms of communicating in the event of an emergency.