Preparing Your School in Case of Emergency Events
Kelly Pilleux-Petronia, the guest author of today’s blog post, is the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) field representative for Territory 30, serving the Chicago, Illinois, region. She served as a designated school official (DSO) for over 10 years before joining SEVP’s Field Representative Unit in 2014.
In today’s blog post, Ms. Pilleux-Petronia shares tips and resources to help DSOs prepare their SEVP-certified school for emergency events and ensure international students are taken into consideration when planning.
When SEVP-certified schools develop their emergency operations plan (also often called a continuity of operations plan, or COOP), they may inadvertently leave out international students. However, keep in mind that international students face unique challenges during emergencies.
As a DSO, you are the subject matter expert whenever international students are involved in an emergency event. Although your school may already have a COOP in place, you can work with your campus emergency manager or others at your school to make sure the plan takes international students and their unique needs into consideration.
Ask the appropriate contacts at your institution about the existing COOP. It may be a good idea for you to be involved in creating or reviewing the COOP to ensure your school incorporates F and M students and their unique reporting requirements into its processes.
To help with developing your COOP and with emergency planning and preparation in general, explore these free resources from the U.S. government:
- ICE.gov’s Emergency Communications for SEVP-certified schools.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Guide for Developing High‑Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Institutions of Higher Education.
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s resources on natural disasters.
- FEMA’s Anticipating Hazardous Weather and Community Risk course.
- Ready.gov’s preparedness toolkits, including the Hurricane Seasonal Preparedness Digital Toolkit.
For more information about developing a COOP, listen to the SEVP Ask the Experts Webinar: Campus Emergency Planning on Study in the States.