3. Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning

Category: Education

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Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning:

Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning Arthur Cummins Director, Safe and Healthy Schools, Orange County Department of Education Gregory Thomas Former Deputy Director of Planning and Response, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Presentation Goals:

Presentation Goals Define a Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plan Highlight COOP-planning considerations Connect a COOP plan to the four phases of emergency management and all-hazards planning Overview of Continuity Planning Team Development Describe the ten elements of a viable COOP plan Present challenges in implementing COOP

Define Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plan:

Define Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plan A COOP Plan: Ensures continued performance of essential functions across a full range of potential emergencies. Provides guidance and establishes responsibilities and procedures . Is not the same as an Emergency Operations Plan.

Define Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plan (Cont’d.):

Define Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plan (Cont’d.) A COOP Plan ensures: Emergency delegation of authority and a line of succession; Safekeeping of essential personnel, resources, facilities, and vital records; Emergency acquisition of resources necessary for business resumption; and The capability to perform critical functions remotely until resumption of normal operations.

Disaster Scenario:

Disaster Scenario Over the weekend, a hurricane/tornado/fire moves through Central County destroying multiple homes, schools, the school administrative center, and much of your school division’s transportation resources. The governor and local political leader have declared a state of emergency. There are multiple injuries and deaths throughout the area. It does not appear that the school division will be able to provide normal education operations.

Highlight COOP-planning Considerations:

Highlight COOP-planning Considerations A school district’s COOP plan should: Allow for its implementation anytime, with or without warning, Provide full operational capability for essential functions no later than 12 hours after activation; and Sustain essential functions for up to 30 days or until normal operations can be resumed.

Highlight COOP-planning Considerations (Cont’d.):

Highlight COOP-planning Considerations (Cont’d.) A COOP plan is utilized when: An incident impacts the district’s or school’s ability to carry out essential functions; and Education facilities and/or students and staff safety is compromised.

Highlight COOP-planning Considerations (Cont’d.):

Highlight COOP-planning Considerations (Cont’d.) Key leadership and personnel in a COOP must: Know the status of their key business functions Be familiar with their assigned essential functions Be aware of COOP capabilities Be able to make a decision or recommendation for implementing the COOP plan

Four Phases of Emergency Management and All-Hazards Planning:

Four Phases of Emergency Management and All-Hazards Planning COOP-planning: Can Prevent or Mitigate loss of essential functions; Helps Prepare a district or individual school to adapt to operational requirements in an emergency or crisis; Provides the ability to Respond to a wide range of functional impacts; and Defines a process to Recover and return to normal operations and restore the learning environment. Prevention -Mitigation Preparedness Response Recovery

Four Phases of Emergency Management and All-Hazards Planning:

Four Phases of Emergency Management and All-Hazards Planning COOP planning should take an all-hazards approach and reflect the prioritized risks and needs of the unique district and facilities. Hazards considerations include: Fire Earthquake Flood Extreme Heat or Cold Hurricane Landslide Active Shooter Threat Tornado Wind Volcano Infectious Disease Outbreaks and/or Pandemic

Four Phases of Emergency Management and All-Hazards Planning:

Four Phases of Emergency Management and All-Hazards Planning Sample continuity planning considerations for pandemic include: Performance of essential functions during increased student and staff absenteeism and school dismissal. Ability to extend continuity capability beyond traditional 30 day guidance. Ability to provide for the continuity of learning using a variety of technological and non-technological methods that also includes assessments. Capability to access vital records electronically. Continued coordination with Federal, State, and local health officials to mitigate the spread of virus (i.e. social distancing strategies). Cleaning methods or sanitation procedures. Limiting or canceling extracurricular activities. Impact to interdependencies (e.g., vendors).

Overview of Continuity Planning Team Development:

Overview of Continuity Planning Team Development The Continuity Planner: Manages day-to-day continuity plan development and maintenance Coordinates with the planning team Oversees tests, training, and exercises; corrective action planning; and long-term planning efforts

Overview of Continuity Planning Team Development (Cont’d.):

Overview of Continuity Planning Team Development (Cont’d.) Continuity Planning Team members should be: Selected based on their expertise in specific areas related to the school’s or district’s essential functions Assigned specific portions of the continuity plan to research and develop Able to work collaboratively with other team members

Slide 14:

Steps to forming the Continuity Planning Team and establishing the Continuity Plan: Identify team members Define member roles Determine planning team alternates Develop continuity plan Research available and potential resources Update and maintain plan Test, Train, & Exercise Overview of Continuity Planning Team Development (Cont’d.)

Slide 15:

Potential Continuity Planning Team members : School Superintendent School Board Member Principals and Assistant Principals Educators School Nurse Local Law Enforcement and/or Local Emergency Management Official Local Government Official Food service Coordinator Transportation Coordinator Facilities Managers and Custodians Legal Counsel and Collective Bargaining Unit Representatives Parent-Teacher Association Representative Overview of Continuity Planning Team Development (Cont’d.)

Elements of a Viable COOP Plan:

Elements of a Viable COOP Plan Essential Functions Orders of Succession Delegations of Authority Continuity Facilities Continuity Communications Vital Records Management Human Capital Testing, Training and Exercise Program Devolution of Control and Direction Reconstitution Operations

Element 1: Essential Functions:

Element 1: Essential Functions Identification of essential functions is the initial stage of COOP-planning. Essential functions must be determined before other COOP processes. Essential functions are based on the unique district and school community, its needs and resources, as well as its supporting emergency management roles. Identification of nonessential functions allows for recognition of which services will cease in an emergency situation.

Element 1: Essential Functions (Cont’d.) :

Element 1: Essential Functions (Cont’d.) Consider essential functions during different operational scenarios. Essential functions may be different when schools are open versus when schools are closed. Schools should identify and recognize their role in emergency support functions related to the local community Emergency Operations Plan. Potential roles include: Schools as emergency shelters School buses used for evacuation

Element 1: Essential Functions (Cont’d.):

Element 1: Essential Functions (Cont’d.) Those functions that must continue with no or minimal disruption include: Provision of health, safety and security; Facilitation of emergency response operations; Provision of educational and critical support services; and Restoration of operations and the learning environment. Examples of essential functions: Transportation—of students or evacuees Communications—internal and external audiences Facility use—accessible main buildings or alternative locations Continuity of learning

Element 2: Orders of Succession:

Element 2: Orders of Succession Orders of Succession Provides for the assumption of senior leadership during an emergency when the incumbents are unable or unavailable to execute their duties Allows for an orderly and predefined transition of authority

Element 3: Delegations of Authority:

Element 3: Delegations of Authority Delegations of authority should: Align with State law and legislative initiatives; Consider different emergencies (e.g., public health, wildfires) Be predetermined, documented in writing, and reviewed by legal counsel; Specify at least two alternate authorities for The Superintendent, board members; School Principal and Assistant Principals; Other key individuals associated with essential functions Address training and/or certification requirements; and Address limitations on the delegated authority.

Element 3: Delegations of Authority (Cont’d.):

Element 3: Delegations of Authority (Cont’d.) Delegations of authority have several purposes: Approving emergency policy changes Approving changes of Standard Operating Procedures Empowering designee(s) to act on behalf of district in interagency response Making personnel management decisions Approving commitment of resources Signing contracts and authorizing procurement

Element 4: Continuity Facilities:

Element 4: Continuity Facilities Schools should identify alternative locations other than their normal facilities to carry out essential functions. Establish any necessary Memorandums of Agreement (MOA)/Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) and partner agreements in advance. Determine if relocation within the district is feasible. Provide for reliable logistical support, services and infrastructure systems. Ability to sustain operations for 30 days or until normal operations can be resumed. Prepositioning assets and resources at alternate facility Determine which essential functions and services can be conducted from a remote location.

Element 5: Continuity Communications:

Element 5: Continuity Communications Continuity facilities must provide communications in order to: Communicate internally with continuity planning team, leadership and key personnel Communicate with community partners Communicate with the school community –students, staff, and families Ensure connectivity if primary means of communication fails

Element 5: Continuity Communications (Cont’d.):

Element 5: Continuity Communications (Cont’d.) Districts should establish and maintain Emergency Notification System (ENS): with available and up-to-date call-down rosters. with alternate means, creating redundancy. For alternative means of communicating, districts should consider: Access to county and state radio frequency; and Access to satellite phones.

Element 6: Vital Records Management:

Element 6: Vital Records Management Electronic and hard copy documents, references and records needed to support essential functions. Two types of vital records: Static records - change little or not at all over time Active records - change constantly with circumstances or as work is completed Examples of vital records include emergency operating records, legal/financial records, and student educational records

Element 6: Vital Records Management (Cont’d.):

Element 6: Vital Records Management (Cont’d.) Emergency Operating Records: Emergency operations plans and directives Orders of succession Delegations of authority References for those who perform which essential functions Staff contact information

Element 6: Vital Records Management (Cont’d.):

Element 6: Vital Records Management (Cont’d.) Legal and Financial Records: Personnel Records Social Security Records Payroll Records Retirement Records Insurance Records Contract Records Student Education Records

Element 7: Human Capital:

Element 7: Human Capital Considerations when assigning staff to essential operations: Talent, energy, knowledge, and enthusiasm that people invest in their work Most qualified people in the right jobs to perform essential functions most effectively Considers reassignment of personnel from nonessential functions relative to collective bargaining units and agreements

Element 7: Human Capital (Cont’d.):

Element 7: Human Capital (Cont’d.) Expectations when the COOP plan is activated: Employees have a clear understanding of what they are supposed to do in an emergency. Students and families have a clear understanding for the continuity of learning expectations. Identifying and providing needed accommodations and modifications to employees with disabilities and special needs. Identifying and providing students with IEPs necessary services during prolonged school dismissal. Providing those eligible students with continued medical and food services.

Element 7: Human Capital (Cont’d.):

Element 7: Human Capital (Cont’d.) COOP management and expectations: Ensure staff with “Essential Functions” responsibilities are trained in advance and continually informed during; Keep all staff informed during a COOP event regarding expectations for work; and Leadership must account for all staff .

Element 8: Test, Training and Exercise Program :

Element 8: Test, Training and Exercise Program The Test, Training and Exercise Program ensures COOP readiness and validates: Essential functions are supported. All equipment and systems work as required. Timeliness of deployment is appropriate. Continuity facility supplies and capabilities are adequate. Employees understand their roles. Interdependencies, supply chain issues and infrastructure capabilities are addressed. Deficiencies and vulnerabilities have been identified.

Element 9: Devolution of Control and Direction:

Element 9: Devolution of Control and Direction Devolution of Control and Direction is: The capability to transfer statutory authority and responsibility for essential functions. A way of ensuring a COOP capability in the event COOP personnel are unable to perform their mission or if the continuity facility is unavailable to support it. Devolution of Control and Direction planning should: Identify likely triggers and authorities. Describe how and when devolution will occur. Identify the resources that will be required, including the availability of other districts and schools to assist.

Element 10: Reconstitution Operations:

Element 10: Reconstitution Operations Reconstitution Operations is the process by which teachers, staff and, ultimately, students resume operations and restore the learning environment. May be complex Requires Sufficient number of students and staff Adequate number of safe and healthy facilities Sufficient business and financial systems operating May include a reconstitution manager to handle reconstitution operations

Slide 35:

Tabletop Exercise


Scenario The governor appoints state educational commissioner who oversees all county school districts. One superintendent and school board per county. There are 16 high schools, 32 middle schools and 64 elementary public schools in Central County. Total enrollment in Central County is 96,000 students.

Scenario :

Scenario On Sunday, the 21st of the month a 7.0 earthquake occurs in Central County. Between 300-500 homes are damaged. Between 2000-3000 people are homeless. Among them teachers, students and other district personnel. Several district staff injured. One teacher is killed. One high school, 3 elementary schools and the administrative offices are too damaged to open.

Questions to Consider:

Questions to Consider Whose needs will determine essential functions? Identify essential functions needed in this scenario. In the two hours after the initial quake what would you communicate to staff and parents?

Inject One:

Inject One Electrical power and phone service are lost after a 6.0 aftershock 2 hours after initial quake. Gradual restoration expected to begin in 3 – 5 days. Water lines to several communities and 6 schools are disrupted. Gradual restoration to begin in 5 – 7 days. Two of the three main highways in and out of the county are closed due to damage. Gradual reopening expected to begin in 5 – 7 days.

Questions to Consider:

Questions to Consider The superintendent is unable to communicate with all school principals after 2 hours. What can empower a principal to make decisions for their site? How will you continue to update staff and parents until phone service is restored? What ensures that all employees know what to do before, during and after an incident?

Inject Two:

Inject Two The local government requests the school district to assist with the emergency by fulfilling its obligations under the local emergency operations plan by providing the following: Opening of multiple shelters at schools that are not damaged; Food collection, storage and production for distribution; Assist with damage assessment and debris removal; Transportation to/from the shelters; and Utilization of warehouse facilities for distribution of incoming medical supplies.

Questions to Consider:

Questions to Consider Identify essential functions needed in this scenario.

Inject Three:

Inject Three Teachers Union has inquired about uninterrupted payroll, health and retirement benefits. Payroll is scheduled to be disbursed on the 30th of the month. Many employees don’t have payroll directly deposited .

Questions to Consider:

Questions to Consider How could you still meet the payroll deadline? How will you safeguard check disbursement?

Inject Four:

Inject Four Shelter operations will cease in one week. Damage assessments of the school buildings indicate that you can reopen in two weeks. The primary administrative facility is destroyed. Many of the employees are displaced and unavailable. Reconstitution will be complex and is estimated to last one year. It will be a full time job.

Questions to Consider:

Questions to Consider How will you provide continuity of education to 2000 high school students and 1500 elementary students displaced from their schools? What determines who performs essential functions? How can essential functions continue? Suggest how reconstitution will be accomplished.

Challenges Implementing COOP:

Challenges Implementing COOP Maintaining sustainability Staff turnover Updating COOP Plans consistently Reserving time to conduct periodic training

Addressing Challenges to Implementation:

Addressing Challenges to Implementation Maintain Sustainability Schedule reviews, updates and training around: Related State and district school emergency management planning events and deadlines Related emergency management planning events and deadlines with community partners Share lessons learned and recent achievements with: District and state education officials Community partners

Addressing Challenges to Implementation:

Addressing Challenges to Implementation Staff Turnover Require new employees to complete Incident Command System (ICS) and COOP online trainings as part of the hiring process. ICS and COOP online trainings are free and self-paced, and include certificates. Emergency Management Institute www.training.fema.gov/EMICourses/

Addressing Challenges to Implementation:

Addressing Challenges to Implementation Continually review and update COOP plans Align review and update of COOP Plans with state required review and update of school emergency management plans

Addressing Challenges to Implementation:

Addressing Challenges to Implementation Schedule times to test and conduct periodic exercises Align tabletop exercises with state mandated drills and district drills. At least semi-annually Conduct annual collaborative tabletop exercises with local first responders. Debrief to identify next steps addressing: Identify what went well Identify what can be done differently Schedule next exercise date


Summary Provide definition of COOP and when it is used. Discuss the ten basic elements of a COOP plan. Understand some of the potential impacts and challenges of implementing a COOP plan.

Presentation Credits:

Presentation Credits Tha nk you to the following persons for their role as initial authors of this presentation: Fred Ellis , Director, Office of Safety and Security, Fairfax Public Schools (Va.) Jess Martinez , Emergency Response and Crisis Management Project Coordinator, San Diego County Office of Education (Calif.) Special thanks to the following person for providing review and comment to these materials: Calvin Hicks , Continuity of Operations Specialist, FEMA National Continuity Programs Directorate

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