3. A written plan specifically accounts for special needs children in emergency situations.
Let's talk today about the most gaping hole in our crisis preparation efforts – planning for the unique concerns of our students with special needs. In examining the 29 states that did not meet the four standards in the Save the Children report, 76% had an all hazards disaster plan mandate, 45% had a parent reunification plan requirement, 41% required evacuation plans, but only 17% addressed the needs of special education students during emergency events. In other words, the most significant area of deficit identified in the report was in the area of planning for special needs students.
It is critical that educators and planners acknowledge that there are a significant number of students in our schools who do not have the physical, emotional, cognitive, or behavioural capabilities to respond to emergency situations the same way as their typical peers. Emergency planning must address ways to provide for the safety and well being of special needs students in preventing, responding, and recovering from crisis events. Review your school’s crisis protocols and/or EOPs with this in mind. Is there even a single notation or plan for dealing with the unique concerns of special education students during the crisis events that we know will occur in the building?