Emergency School Planning for Students with Disabilities

May 29, 2022 | Accommodations, IEP

School shootings are an all-too-real concern for parents across America but parents of students with disabilities have even more reason to worry. While schools have general emergency plans in place, plans may not be crafted with consideration of the varying needs of students with disabilities. 

Students with disabilities may have mobility or visual limitations that impede their ability to evacuate, may become emotionally dysregulated during an unplanned and stressful event, may not be able to effectively communicate with first responders or medical providers, or may require access to medication or sensory items during a lockdown or shelter-in-place.

Advance planning is often needed.

This is where IEPs and 504 plans come in. Schools must provide support for the individualized needs of students with disabilities in all types of emergency situations, such as lockdowns, sheltering in place, and evacuations. 

Here are some resources for parents: 

Autism Parenting Magazine: Ways You Can USE the IEP to Create the Best Emergency Plan

Wrightslaw: Emergency Evacuation Planning for Students with Disabilities 

American College of Emergency Physicians: Emergency Information Form for Children With Special Health Care Needs

CDC: Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs in Emergencies

National Fire Protection Association: Personal Emergency Evacuation Planning Tool for School Students with Disabilities

New Jersey School Boards Association: Emergency Planning for Students with Disabilities

Missouri School Boards Association: Emergency Planning for Students with Special and Functional Needs within the Context of School and Community Planning