What Schools Can Do
- Keep your insurance policy current. Include items on the grounds – playground equipment, parking lot lights, sheds, storage units, etc. Certain special purpose building units may not be paid for in the typical manner, which then get inadvertently excluded in covered inventory. Structures and equipment that are donated, collaboratively funded, purchased by a benefactor (PTA, booster group, etc.), need to be added to your insurance policy as you are the owner.
- Extra expense coverage (similar to business interruption coverage) needs to be covered at a sufficient level to help fund temporary operations.
- Blanket coverage limits for one event provide flexibility vs. having individual building limits that if not kept current at the individual level, could create a funding shortage for replacement of any one structure. The blanket coverage would preclude that scenario.
- A single building loss due to fire or explosion, is more probable than losing forty percent of all buildings from a major tornado, flood, or earthquake. A one building loss is not likely to qualify for FEMA assistance. Therefore, a contingency plan needs to be developed to attain space and provide sufficient funding for a key single building loss, temporary operation site, and permanent replacement site based on insurance and local funding only for short term and multi-year possibilities. Contingency plans should consider the most likely scenarios first, and follow with those that have decreasing probabilities.
- One point regarding insurance can’t be stressed enough relating to the importance of the insurance carrier selected for property coverage. The test of your carrier is not known until you file a large and/or complicated claim. Therefore, only property insurance carriers that have the highest rated claims payment services and financial strength should be engaged. These requirements should be included in your Request for Bids and made available to the marketplace on an evenhanded basis, allowing all to participate. The pressures you may receive to place local or political interests ahead of the highest standard you can set with the bid, should be set aside while you proceed undeterred. The perceived benefit brought by these pressures including a dollar savings amount at bid opening over a more qualified competitor, whether real or unreal, will long be forgotten and unappreciated if you select a carrier that is less than the best and have to face a property disaster of one or more buildings with this pre-selected business partner you are so dependent for a successful recovery.
Recovery of the Disaster
Recovery is teaming with community partners to restore educational programming; the physical environment; business operations; and social, emotional, and behavioral health.
Four Components of School Recovery
- Academics recovery. Learning is the primary purpose of schools, and the ability to resume academic activities is essential to a school’s recovery. The resumption of teaching and learning begins to restore normalcy to the school environment through routines, which can be very important in the psychological and emotional health of students, teachers, and staff.
- Physical and structural recovery. This type of recovery is needed to support education and involves the restoration of the school’s buildings, equipment, and supplies.
- Business functions recovery. The school’s or school district’s business operations that also serve as a support function to education, such as payroll and contracts, need to be fully restored if impacted by an emergency.
- Social, emotional, and behavioral recovery. Even though academics, physical and structural, and business functions recovery may have ended, the social, emotional, and behavioral recovery of students, teachers, and staff may continue long after. For students, the emergency event may have led to a lack of engagement, poor attendance, tardiness, incomplete assignments, antisocial behavior, and withdrawal.
Recovery is very complex and has many stresses for all involved. Counseling should be provided to leadership and staff to assist in processing the disaster and the resulting suffering. Be respectful and empathetic in asking staff to rise to the challenges. (https://rems.ed.gov/Docs/Recovery_Fact_Sheet_508C.pdf)
Key operating principles:
- Transparency builds trust
- Tell our story before the media does
- The Board and leadership need to be lock-step, trusting, and consistent in messaging
- Recognition that public and staff goodwill is essential to help with community healing and recovery.