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Save the Children: Michigan's lack of school disaster planning "reprehensible"

Lansing school children hurry to class
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)
Lansing school children hurry to class

Michigan is one of only two states (the other being Iowa) that does not meet any of the minimum standards for disaster planning for schools and child care operators, according to Save the Children.

An annual report by the group says Michigan schools are not required to have a "multi-threat" disaster plan, which would include drills for active shooter events.

And the group says, while large child care centers are required to have disaster plans in place, family and individual day care operators are not.

At a minimum, Save the Children says those plans should include an evacuation and relocation plan, a plan to reunite children with their families, and a plan to make sure children with special needs are protected during and after disasters.

The group's Richard Bland says Michigan was lucky this year not to have a major disaster requiring evacuation of schools and day care centers, "but do you really want to wait for the worst to happen to find out where the gaps are?"

Save the Children's report also includes a survey of parents, which finds that forty percent do not have a family disaster plan in place. One in five families have not informed their child's school or day care center how to find the parents in the event of an emergency.

The group's website includes downloadable checklists to guide families in making a plan.

Save the Children has tracked state disaster planning requirements for schools and day care centers since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and coastal areas in the Gulf in 2005.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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