Schools plan for all types of emergencies

Ragan Report Column: Every school in Iowa should have a plan in case of a natural disaster, medical emergency, bomb threat and other unexpected problems. That's why the Senate Education Committee passed a bill requiring schools to establish security plans.

SF 2253 requires Iowa's local school boards to develop security plans for each of their buildings by June 30, 2019. Plans must include scenarios for active shooters and such natural disasters as tornadoes and floods.

Currently, 33 states specifically require comprehensive school safety or emergency plans. In preparing the plans, school officials must consider recommendations from the Iowa Department of Education and consult with local law enforcement and emergency management.

As part of a national grant, the Department of Education has developed resources to assist public school districts and non-public schools in putting together emergency plans in conjunction with community partners. School staff, emergency management coordinators, first responders, and public and mental health officials are involved in the process to ensure plans reflect actual capabilities and available local resources. Plans provide an overview of the school's approach to operations before, during and after an emergency.

With the grant, 80-85 percent of Iowa schools developed voluntary plans and put procedures in place between 2012 and 2015. SF 2253 would require the rest of Iowa schools to do the same. For more information, check out the Planning Resources for educators, parents and students from the Iowa Department of Education.

Sen. Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City) serves Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties in Senate District 27. She can be reached at 515-281-3371 or 641-424-0874. Email her at