Four Basic Safety Drills for Your School

Vol. 16 No. 4

businessmanager eletter Vol16 No4 safetydrill

Safety is a top concern for families who choose to send their children to private-independent schools. That is why it’s imperative for your school’s crisis plan to be up-to-date and thorough, especially for the Business Office.

Protect the safety of your students and your community by practicing drills often. We recommend including the following four drills in every crisis plan, as well as others that make sense for your school.


A school evacuation occurs when students, faculty, and staff need to leave the school. While a practice drill typically only lasts a few minutes, a true emergency may necessitate staying outside for a long period or moving to a new location. When creating your drill plan, include

  • predetermined gathering sites
  • site maps with marked exits
  • planned evacuation routes
  • assigned staff roles and responsibilities
  • communication plans for emergency personnel, parents, and the larger community
  • reunification procedures.

If moving students to a predetermined off-campus location is included in your plan, consider how you will handle transportation to and from the site.

Reverse Evacuation

Reverse evacuation drills are critical for two reasons. The first is as a complement to evacuation drills. Once everyone is out of the school, you need to get them back in. Second, if students are engaged in an outside activity—such as recess, an athletic program, or changing classes between buildings—a reverse evacuation allows you to bring everyone back into the building quickly in the event of an external threat. Think through how you’d communicate a reverse evacuation and what you must put in place to ensure it happens quickly and efficiently.


This drill prepares students in the event of an intruder on campus. An announcement that the campus is going on lockdown signifies the beginning of this event. Those in the building can remain where they are, such as in a classroom or the gym and cafeteria, as long as these areas have been determined to be safe and securable. Another option is to have everyone meet in a preordained place on campus that can be easily secured, as long as facilities, logistics, and staffing allow.

Shelter in Place

This is used when students, faculty, and staff must remain where they are when the event begins. In this drill, they should practice ways to secure their surroundings.

Your school must practice these drills so that, if a true emergency ever does occur, everyone will know how to respond. Encourage your faculty and staff to follow established protocol. They must be able to think on their feet and respond to situations without panicking. For instance, consider blocking an exit during a practice drill to help them think through their options and develop a plan B quickly.

Make sure copies of your procedures are easily accessible, and faculty and staff know what actions they are responsible for in the event of an emergency. Finally, share your protocols with local emergency responders so there is no confusion if they must come to your school. You may even ask them to participate in drills as it makes sense.

Protect the safety of your students, faculty, staff, and community with a comprehensive school crisis plan that includes safety drills to keep everyone on the same page.

Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Business and Operations Vol. 16 No. 1 Creating Your School's Response and Recovery Plans
The Source for Business and Operations Vol. 3 No. 3 Four-Team Approach for Creating and Maintaining a Crisis Plan

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 35 No. 12 Does Your Crisis Plan Really Protect Your Students (and School)?
Vol. 35 No. 14 Developing Your Business Continuation Plan

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