One emergency preparedness-related question that comes up is that of RESPONSIBILITY:
"When it comes to school emergency preparedness, what is the school's responsibility and what is the PTA's?"
When it comes to school emergency preparedness (plans, supplies, training, etc) it is the school that is responsible.
PTA plays a supporting role: We can help the staff/principal with some things, but we are not RESPONSIBLE for school emergency preparedness. For example, the PTA can:
- Help the principal/staff member as they conduct the annual inventory of supplies
- Organize a group of volunteers to observe and help evaluate during drills
- Serve on the school's emergency planning committee to offer a parental perspective and to act as advocates during the planning and review process
- Help arrange funding, via PTA grants, for emergency supplies and equipment
- Remind principals of training opportunities in our community
- Encourage principals to dedicate a non-student day to hands on emergency preparedness training for the staff, and more.
But be mindful of the difference between "can" versus "may." We are able to do these things (we can), but we need permission from the principal, or the staff member in charge of emergency planning for the school, to do so (we may). We need to work closely and respectfully with our school's administrators and their designees. This is true in all aspects of PTA, but especially so with Emergency Preparedness.
Our RESPONSIBILITY comes in our role as advocates for our children's safety. We need to understand where our schools stand in their efforts to be prepared. And we should be ready to advocate for increased emergency preparedness efforts in our schools, when necessary.
Local Unit Emergency and Safety Committee Chairperson responsibilities could include any of the following:
- Advocate for your PTA to allocate funds to grant to the school for the purchase of supplies and equipment
- Participate in Emergency Prep Email Networking Group to receive valuable information and to help others performing the same job at their school
- Educate parents via PTA newsletter, Open House, or Back To School Night opportunities. They should be made aware of district/building emergency procedures/polices, such as mass student release.
- Educate the PTA Board and parents as to the needs of the building, as well as educating building staff/admin as to the support PTA can offer.