Released in time for the five-year anniversaries of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and their destruction of Gulf Coast schools, Save the Children’s second annual state-preparedness survey found only 12 states have in place basic safeguards to protect children during disasters.
The group queried states on whether they require all schools and licensed child-care providers to have four elements in place the organization considers essential to emergency planning for children: a written evacuation plan to move children at the school or center to a safe location; a written plan to notify parents or guardians of the emergency and reunite them with an evacuated child; a written emergency plan that includes procedures for students with special needs; and a school emergency plan that accounts for different types of disasters the school might encounter, including natural disasters or terrorist acts.
The 12 states with all those elements in place represent an increase from 2009, when only seven met that criteria. States most often left out requirements to plan for protecting special-needs students during emergencies; only 18 states included that element.
A version of this article appeared in the September 01, 2010 edition of Education Week as Disaster Preparedness