With Southwest Florida recently experiencing Hurricane Ian, it is apparent how much natural disasters can affect our education communities within the blink of an eye. We can’t do much of anything to prevent a natural disaster, that’s just mother nature doing what she does. However, we can do our best to have strategic plans put into place when disaster strikes.
Educational facilities play a much larger role than just educating the youth. School systems are responsible for, yes, educating children, but also for providing a safe, comfortable, clean environment for all who enter.
Schools also play the role of being a social outlet, as students interact with other students, as well as teacher and staff members. These social interactions may not always be available to some students outside of school which makes students being in school vital for their development. Social interactions affect a child’s mental health state.
Without all of these things, a child can be faced with some serious predicaments. The good thing is there are resources that your community can take advantage of when a natural disaster affects your community, thanks to the Department of Education.
- The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) Technical Assistance provides assistance through grant programs to support grantees and help with K-12 educational needs. This assistance helps with restarting operations, re-enrolling students, and reopening elementary and secondary educational institutions after any type of natural disaster. OESE provides an extensive amount of resources including websites, webinars, documents and other tools to provide support to K-12 education programs.
- Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) | Disaster Planning and Trauma Response Page is a great resource that provides links and educational material from federal agencies and national organizations to help families and children when disaster hits.
- The Center for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS): Developed a guide that describes the use of a multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) to support students, families, and educators the resources they need as they transition back to school after a natural disaster. These resources are for the overall health and safety of students to protect their emotional, social and physical well being. The key factor here is this guide helps students to return to schools, and get back to normal as soon as possible.
The above resources are meant to be used, but we encourage your community and school to start doing their own research for how to be strategic when natural disaster strikes. If Hurricane Ian has taught us anything, it is you can never be fully prepared, and the unthinkable is still possible!
We encourage you to come together within your communities and schools to prepare for different natural disaster scenarios to protect the well being of your students.
Posted by U.S. Department of Education, and U.S. Department of Education. “Resources for Communities Following Natural Disasters.” ED.gov Blog, 7 Oct. 2022, https://blog.ed.gov/2022/10/resources-for-communities-following-natural-disasters/.