INSIGHT: Emergency Preparedness

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all relearning what it means to be working together as a community on a daily basis. One of the key areas we are focusing on this year is Campus Safety and Emergency Preparedness. When we were fully remote, we didn’t have to run fire drills. We also added hundreds of people to our community over the last few years who did not receive training on our protocols and procedures. Finally, with the Middle School renovation, we now have a complete campus. It is for these reasons that we are spending significant time working with our students and faculty/staff on emergency preparedness this year.

Much has changed in the domain of emergency preparedness since we were last all on campus in the pre-covid days. Research has shown that simulating violent intruders on campus is ineffective at best, and harmful at worst. Moreover, past efforts to drill specific types of incidents (i.e. earthquakes and chemical spills) leads to linear, inflexible thinking. With this in mind, we have revamped our program to focus on situational thinking and adopted the mantra STOP…THINK…ACT.

We have already introduced this approach to our students in class meetings and assembly. Starting in late October, we will begin the training in earnest in advisory and start to run drills. An added benefit of this approach is that tabletop exercises and campus walkabouts are as effective (if not more) than traditional drills.

One of the key goals of this effort is to make emergency preparedness a shared community responsibility. We all play a part in keeping each other healthy and safe, and we will continue to work together throughout the year to develop our community-wide situational thinking. If you have any questions or concerns about our plans, as always, please reach out to me.

Sam Uzwack
Head of School-elect