School Crisis Guide FAQ

Question: Should the windows in classroom doors be covered? What about other classroom windows?

Answer: Classroom doors that have windows should not be permanently covered. It is best to have a covering nearby that can be quickly inserted into the window and affixed with magnets, Velcro or hooks. For classroom windows which expose the interior to view from the outside, blinds are the best solution.

Question: What should teachers do if the school is in a “Clear the Halls” or “Secure the School” status and the fire alarm rings?

Answer: Stay in the “Secure the Building” mode unless you have evidence that a fire is apparent or indications of imminent fire danger. Use your senses; do you smell smoke or feel heat? Generally, the first alarm takes priority and would remain as such unless a person having authority, such as a school administrator or response representative (fire, law enforcement) gives a different command directive.

Question: We don’t practice any safety plans in our school. Are we breaking the law?

Answer: Monthly emergency drills are required under the current Vermont law 16 V.S.A., section 1481:

”The principal or person in charge of a public or independent school or educational institution shall drill the pupils so that they may be able to leave the school building or perform other procedures described in the school’s emergency plan, or both in the shortest possible time and without panic or confusion.”

The italicized words are important. If your school has a safety plan that uses the multiple commands in the Vermont School Crisis Guide 2008, then you may use any one of them to meet the monthly obligation. The multiple commands are: Secure the Building; Clear the Halls; Evacuate the Students and Relocate the Students.

Question: How many days of meals should cafeteria planners have on hand for emergencies which effect schools?

Answer: Schools should have a minimum of one full day on hand. Beyond one day, the American Red Cross and emergency providers will arrive with additional support. As a rule, VEM recommends three days as does the corrections department, colleges and the University.

Question: What should be placed in a “go pack” or emergency pack in teachers’ classrooms?

Answer: Supplies must be tailored to a school’s individual need and grade level. A common list might look like this kit (recommended by FEMA):


  • Use backpacks or buckets
  • Some recommended supplies:
    • Class Roster
    • Copy of Emergency Procedures
    • First Aid Cards (8 1/2 X 11, laminated)
    • First Aid Supplies
    • Hand Towelettes and Hand Sanitizer
    • Duct Tape
    • Flashlight with Batteries
    • ‘Space Blankets’, Tarps and/or Trash Bags
    • Activities for students (age specific)
    • Any other site/student specific items

These must be tailored to a schools’ individual need. In one of my schools the parents donated old coats which are stored in barrels outside for use in cold weather so they don’t need many “Space Blankets”.