The Big Five - School Emergency Guidelines

At a Glance

The back-to-school season is a good time for administrators to review emergency plans with staff and for parents to review safety rules with their children. We want to share with parents and community members the safety protocols currently in place across the county and in our schools and to reassure them the safety of our children is our top priority.

San Mateo County's Coalition for Safe Schools and Communities is a collaborative, multi-agency group that was formed in 2013, following the fatal shooting of 26 students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The mission of the Coalition for Safe Schools and Communities is to identify and address safety needs of county youth, to work across agencies to implement best practices in emergency response and mental health, and to support with a legal framework for lawful information-sharing, using a common language.

Through this collaborative process, the Coalition produced the Big Five, a common emergency plan adopted by all San Mateo County School Districts and law enforcement agencies. The Big Five protocol supports high quality training for school staff and community members and ensures clear channels of communications with schools, first responders, parents and community members should an emergency occur.

In addition to the Big Five, the Coalition released a Student Threat Assessment Protocol and Suicide Prevention Toolkit in August of 2017, and to date it has provided training to every school district in San Mateo County, along with several private schools. While not a foolproof method of assessing risk, the Student Threat Assessment Protocol provides every school with an evidence-based process and is intended to provide early intervention and support to students who may be struggling. To support this process, there is also a countywide Level Two Student Threat Assessment Team that meets on a regular basis to review cases.

Resources:

It is our hope that through our continuing collaboration and effort, San Mateo County can stand as a model of 21st century school emergency response.

News:

In September, PEN TV host Dani Gasparini interviewed Nancy Magee, Associate Superintendent, Student Services Division, San Mateo County Office of Education, and Jeneé Littrell, Director, Safe and Supportive Schools. Topics discussed include The Big Five.