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Widely publicized accounts of tragedy striking school campuses have raised the level of concern among parents, teachers and students alike. The unsettling events of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Columbine High School in Colorado and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University have forced schools nationwide to shed their innocence, dispel their complacency about emergency preparedness, pause, and take stock. The crucial lesson drawn from those headlines is that schools must maintain a high level of preparedness for man-made emergencies as well as natural disasters.

This guidebook is targeted for schools ready to recognize that emergency preparedness no longer consists solely of monthly fire drills in which students evacuate classrooms to a pre-designated spot or a quarterly duck, cover and hold on exercise to practice for when the earth beneath them starts to rock and roll.

Moving Beyond Duck, Cover and Hold On was written to jump-start the organization of parent-led projects that support school emergency preparedness activities. The school-related scenarios presented in this guidebook describe actual incidents and introduce the parent-led activity from which they might benefit. Each chapter outlines an activity that can be adapted for any school, wherever situated, whatever the size, that can support the resiliency of a school community to respond to a disaster.

Such planning is the responsibility of the school district and site administrators, but preparedness programs also depend upon support from the parent community. The guidebook highlights ways administrators and parent volunteers can work together to establish emergency preparedness activities that boost confidence in the response capability of the school.

There is no ironclad preparedness for disasters in the contemporary world and no sure means to neutralize our vulnerability, but a thoughtful approach that addresses foreseeable communication, logistical and safety issues can enhance our peace of mind while our beloved offspring are away at school.

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