School board certifies crisis plan for Prince Edward

Published 2:55 am Wednesday, September 13, 2023

At last month’s meeting, the Prince Edward County School Board discussed how to move forward with the district’s crisis plan. After changes and clarification, this time around, the board certified the PECS 2023-2024 Crisis Plan.

This plan lays out what the district will do in the case of an emergency, whether it involves a fire, bomb threat, active shooter, severe weather, allergic reaction or many other emergencies. Due to the nature of the plan, the district is unable to release the full document to the public, but those interested can look at the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recommended plan, which was a model for this one. 

“Not all components will be in there because not all things are relative to our division as Mr. Goode described last time,” said Dr. Michelle Wallace, assistant superintendent. 

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Some of the items Richard Goode, the district’s director of support services, listed as not relevant included items related to being near an airport or train station. 

School board addresses concerns

Goode addressed one of the concerns mentioned in the previous meeting about the oversight committee and who was on it. For the committee, Goode reached out to Sheriff Tony Epps and Andrea Randle of Crossroads to give input for the crisis plan. When it comes to responses to the incident, Chief Daniel Clark with the Farmville Fire Department and Deanna Lester the executive director of the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad are part of the incident command to help prepare for efficient responses in an emergency.

Once the plan is approved, a copy of the plan will go to the Farmville Police Department, the Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office, the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad and all school administration. 

Board member Elzora Stiff noticed that the plan was over 100 pages and asked about condensing the plan to make it easier for teachers, staff and others to know and use effectively. Even though this one is long, this one is condensed as many can be around 300 pages. 

“When we first went through and looked at this, you can have as many pages as you want but the plan is just a plan on paper,” said Goode. “The plan has to be one you feel comfortable your people can execute…You don’t have time to go back and look at the plan you have to go ahead into action.”

Board member Kelly Forsythe echoed what Goode said about knowing the plan in case of an emergency. If something happens, the teacher or staff will go and pull the few pages related to the incident and not have to deal with the entire bulk of the project every time it needs to be used. This makes it not as overwhelming as it looks despite the high page count. 

Stiff also asked if there would be sessions to review the plan frequently. Good replied that many of the items in the plan are things that the teachers and staff do daily. For example, at the elementary school, every afternoon they practice reunification as they make sure students get to where they need to go to safely get home. 

When it comes to replacing members on the threat assessment team, Goode plans to reach out to the principals to ask who they’d like to see on the team and they go from there. 

After the brief discussion, the school board gave a unanimous vote to certify the crisis plan.