Texas Education Code 37.108 requires districts and open-enrollment charters to adopt and implement a multi-hazard emergency operations plan (EOP) that must provide for district employee emergency response training and mandatory school drills and exercises. Texas Education Code 37.114 tasks the Texas Education Agency Commissioner, in consultation with the Texas School Safety Center and the state fire marshal, to adopt rules that designate the type and number of mandatory drills. These drills should be listed and followed in the multi-hazard emergency operations plan.
Training, drilling, and exercising are key features of a comprehensive emergency management program and facilitate the establishment of a culture of preparedness. Preparedness builds the capability to respond effectively and recover from emergency incidents. Regular training, drilling, and exercising using pre-determined and appropriate protocols will reduce the possibility that students and staff become victims in an emergency and ensure that responses are well executed.
In addition, all stakeholders must be aware of their roles and responsibilities before, during, and after any type of emergency. Therefore, all training, drilling, and exercising should be mapped to the multi-hazard emergency operations plan (e.g., off-campus evacuation sites, warning systems, communications plan, reunification process, etc.). All students and staff should be provided with an appropriate level of training and included in drills and exercises. In an emergency, their knowledge of emergency procedures and protocol can reduce confusion, panic, and perhaps serious injury.