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Important Information for New Administrators

This webpage has been developed by the Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC) for the purpose of educating new and existing school administrators about their role in School Safety, as well as School Safety Plan Coordinators.

This guide will help administrators:

  • Understand the Emergency Management Plan statutory requirements;
  • Create and maintain school emergency management plans;
  • Access the School Safety Plans Portal;
  • Submit supporting documents for review; and
  • Locate school safety resources.

Please note that the terms “School Emergency Management Plan” and “School Safety Plan” found in this guide are used intermittently and have the same meaning.   If you have any questions or need assistance, please call (614) 644-2641 or send an email to OhioSchoolSafetyCenter@dps.ohio.gov.

Overview of the Legal Requirements

School Emergency Management Plan requirements are governed by ORC 5502.262  and OAC 3301-5-01. 
Under these laws, schools are required to:

  • Submit an Emergency Management Plan (EMP) to the Ohio School Safety Center for review every three years;
  • Complete an Annual Plan Certification between January 1st and July 1st each year; and
  • Complete an Emergency Management Test (EMT) between January 1st and December 31st each year.

Below is a sample timeline of the School Emergency Management Plan Cycle. The cycle is continuous and repeats every three years. 

School Safety Plans Portal access via OH|ID

As a new administrator, you need access to the School Safety Plans Portal. This portal may be accessed by logging into OH|ID. If you do not have an OH|ID account, click on the “Create Account” button to create one. For step-by-step instructions, please refer to the How to Access the School Safety Plans Portal guide.

Once logged in, click on the “My Sites & Applications” tab and then the “School Safety Plans Portal” icon. All emergency management plan documents are entered into the School Safety Plans Portal. 

Q) Who has access to the School Safety Plans Portal?

A) Only staff members with Superintendent, Principal, Assistant Principal, or Coordinator-Safety Plan roles assigned to them in the Ohio Education Directory System (OEDS) may access the School Safety Plans Portal.  If you need one of these roles assigned, please contact your local OEDS administrator at your school or district.

Q) What if I don’t see the School Safety Plans Portal icon?

A) Use the blue arrow to the right of the icons to scroll through available options. If you still don’t see the icon, please contact your local OEDS administrator to ensure that you have the correct role assigned to your profile.

Submitting Emergency Management Plan (EMP) Documents

An EMP consists of five documents and must be submitted to the Ohio School Safety Center every three years for review leading to compliance.  Templates are available on the OSSC’s website.

The five documents are:

  1. Floor Plan
  2. Site Plan
  3. Emergency Operations Plan
  4. Emergency Contact Information Sheet (standardized form)
  5. Stakeholder Signature Page (standardized form)

Q) Where does my school find our next resubmission date?

A) Log into OH|ID and click on the School Safety Plans Portal icon. The last column “Resubmit Date” will show the school’s next due date.

Q) Will the Ohio School Safety Center notify the school when their EMP is due for resubmission?

A) Yes, the planner assigned to your county will notify the school by email six months prior to the due date. Please make sure contact information listed in the Ohio Education Directory System (OEDS) is current for staff members holding a Superintendent, Principal, or Coordinator-Safety Plan role. To access OEDS, please log into OH|ID.

Q) Where can I access the newest EMP document templates?

A) The templates can be accessed on the Ohio School Safety Center’s website at https://ohioschoolsafetycenter.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/ossc/pre-k-12-schools/school-safety-plans. Your planner will also attach the latest templates to the six-month notification email.

Q) Where can I view the school’s current EMP documents?

A) Documents uploaded by the school can be viewed from the School Safety Plans Portal. Click on the blue button in the “Plan Management” column and then “View Plan”.

Q) How do I make edits to the existing EMP documents in the portal?

A) Since the documents were uploaded by the school as a PDF, edits cannot be made directly to the documents in the portal. If the school did not save the original document, please create a new document using the templates available at https://ohioschoolsafetycenter.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/ossc/pre-k-12-schools/school-safety-plans.

Q) How do I upload/replace my EMP documents?

A) From the School Safety Plans Portal, click on the blue button in the “Plan Management” column. To replace an existing document, click on the “Edit” button and upload the new PDF from your computer. To upload a new document, click on “Add New Plan” and upload the document from your computer.

For step-by-step instructions on how to upload EMP documents, please refer to the How to Upload EMP Documents guide.  Help documents are also available by clicking on the “Help” button in the upper right-hand corner and selecting the “How to Upload Emergency Management Plan Documents” option.

Q) Is my planner available to answer questions?

A) Yes, the Ohio School Safety Center is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Upon request, your planner can review draft documents and provide feedback prior to your resubmission date. Start a dialog with your planner by using the contact information in your six-month notification email, or contact the Ohio School Safety Center directly at (614) 644-2641 or OhioSchoolSafetyCenter@dps.ohio.gov.

Q) What happens after required documents are uploaded during the school’s three-year resubmission period?

A) The OSSC planner assigned to your region will review the documents.

  • If revisions are required, the OSSC planner will inform the school via one of the following methods:
    • An email.
    • A formal Gap Analysis Tool (GAT). This official review or “grading rubric” can be found on the dashboard.
  • After revisions are complete or if no revisions are required, the OSSC planner will approve the documents.
  • The OSSC supervisor will conduct a final review.  If found compliant, the school’s plan status will be updated to “Compliant” and the school will receive an automated email confirming.

Annual Plan Certification

Every year between January 1st and July 1st, school administrators are required to review their Emergency Management Plan documents for accuracy. The Annual Plan Certification is intended as a mid-year review.

If a document is no longer accurate, please upload a revised version to the School Safety Plans Portal and then enter the review date into the portal. If no changes are needed, just enter your review date and save.

Q) Will uploading a revised document change my resubmission date?

A) No. Since a lot can change within a school on a year-to-year basis, the Annual Plan Certification is an annual mid-year review intended to capture any changes and keep accurate information listed in the system. Uploading a revised document will not change your next resubmission date.

Q) Do I need to obtain new stakeholder signatures?

A) No. Because only minor revisions are made during the annual plan certification, schools will not be required to obtain new signatures.  However, schools should ensure that local first responders receive a copy of the updated documents. 

Q) How do I enter my Annual Plan Certification review date?

A) After reviewing the EMP documents and uploading any revisions to the School Safety Plans Portal, click on the blue button in the “Annual Plan Certification” column. On the next page, type the review date into the box and click “Save”. 

For step-by-step instructions on how to complete an annual plan certification, please refer to the Annual Plan Certification Step-by-Step Instructions guide.  Help documents are also available by clicking on the “Help” button in the upper right-hand corner and selecting the “How to Complete an Annual Plan Certification” option.

Emergency Management Test (EMT) & Exercises

Each year between January 1st and December 31st, schools are required to test a section of their emergency management plan by completing a tabletop, functional, or full-scale exercise. In a three-year period, schools are required to complete one tabletop, one functional, and one full-scale exercise on a rotation.

Using the information in their emergency operations plan, schools create an exercise scenario (hypothetical) that is most relevant for their unique situation. The Ohio School Safety Center encourages schools to allow local first responders to participate in the planning and execution of the exercises.  However, student participation is not mandatory.

Within 30 days of completion of the exercise, schools must complete an EMT After-Action Report using the School Safety Plans Portal. The Ohio School Safety Center encourages schools to utilize the EMT Data Collection Worksheet prior to submitting it online. This form is a useful data-collection tool that helps schools document critical elements of the exercise prior to entering it into the School Safety Plans Portal.

Q) Are EMTs the same as the State Fire Marshal’s drills?

A) No. Although all exercises and drills are intended to increase preparedness, there are key differences between DPS’ annual EMT and the State Fire Marshall’s drills. The State Fire Marshall covers typical fire, tornado, and lockdown drills. An EMT is a scheduled, annual tabletop, functional, or full-scale exercise. For additional information, please refer to EMT: Exercise Types webpage on the OSSC website.

Q) What is a tabletop exercise (TTX)?

A) As stated in OAC 3301-5-01, “tabletop exercises (TTX) are typically held in an informal setting intended to generate discussion of various issues regarding a hypothetical, simulated emergency. TTXs can be used to enhance general awareness, validate plans and procedures, rehearse concepts, and/or assess the types of systems needed to guide the prevention of, protection from, mitigation of, response to, and recovery from a defined incident. Generally, TTXs are aimed at facilitating conceptual understanding, identifying strengths and areas for improvement, and/or achieving changes in attitudes.”

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency recently released K-12 Tabletop Exercise Toolkits that schools can adapt to their location. Those toolkits can be found at https://ema.ohio.gov/Exercise_TableTop_Toolkit.aspx.

For additional resources, please visit FEMA’s website at https://training.fema.gov/programs/emischool/el361toolkit/conductingexercisesdrills.htm, or SchoolSafety.gov at https://www.schoolsafety.gov/respond-and-recover/training-exercises-and-drills.

Q) What is a functional exercise?

A) As stated in OAC 3301-5-01, “Functional exercises are designed to validate and evaluate capabilities, multiple functions and/or sub-functions, or interdependent groups of functions. FEs are typically focused on exercising plans, policies, procedures, and staff members involved in management, direction, command, and control functions. In FEs, events are projected through an exercise scenario with event updates that drive activity at the management level. An FE is conducted in a realistic, real-time environment; however, movement of personnel and equipment is usually simulated.”

For additional resources, please visit FEMA’s website at https://training.fema.gov/programs/emischool/el361toolkit/conductingexercisesdrills.htm, or SchoolSafety.gov at https://www.schoolsafety.gov/respond-and-recover/training-exercises-and-drills.

Q) What is a full-scale exercise?

A) As stated in OAC 3301-5-01, “Full-scale exercises are typically the most complex and resource- intensive type of exercise. They involve multiple agencies, organizations, and jurisdictions and validate many facets of preparedness. FSEs often include many players operating under cooperative systems such as the "Incident Command System or Unified Command".

For additional resources, please visit FEMA’s website at https://training.fema.gov/programs/emischool/el361toolkit/conductingexercisesdrills.htm, or SchoolSafety.gov at https://www.schoolsafety.gov/respond-and-recover/training-exercises-and-drills

Q) Do EMTs operate on a school year or calendar year?

A) EMTs operate on a calendar year. An exercise completed anytime between January 1st and December 31st will count for that calendar year.

Q) Did the 2020 EMT get extended because of Covid19?

A) Yes. Due to Covid19, the Superintendent of the Ohio Department of Education granted a 2020 EMT deadline extension. If a school could not complete their EMT in 2020, they can complete two EMTs in 2021 – one to count towards 2020 and one to count towards 2021. If completing two EMTs in 2021, please enter both EMTs with their 2021 completion dates in the School Safety Plans Portal.

Q) Can I complete additional exercises?

A) Yes. Although schools are only required by law to report one exercise per year, the Ohio School Safety Center encourages school to frequently exercise their emergency operations plan. 

Q) I’m not sure what type of exercise my school should complete – can I see past exercise entries?

A) Yes. In the School Safety Plans Portal, click on the blue button in the “Emergency Management Test” column. To view data for a specific year, click on the blue “View” button.

Q) How do I enter my EMT After-Action Report?

A) In the School Safety Plans Portal, click on the blue button in the “Emergency Management Test” column and then “Add New Test”. For step-by-step instructions on how to submit an EMT after-action report, please refer to the EMT After-Action Report Step-by-Step Instructions guide.  Help documents are also available by clicking on the “Help” button in the upper right-hand corner of the School Safety Plans Portal and selecting the “How to Complete and EMT After-Action Report” option. 

Some additional helpful tips:

  • When creating your exercise entry, be sure to indicate “No” when asked if the exercise was an actual emergency.

  • When using a Chemical Accident in your exercise scenario, be sure to upload an MSD Sheet for the chemicals involved using the button indicated below.