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RULE §103.1209Mandatory School Drills

(a) Requirement. Each school district and open-enrollment charter school shall conduct emergency safety drills in accordance with Texas Education Code (TEC), §37.114. Drills do not include persons role playing as active aggressors or other simulated threats.

(b) Definitions and related terms. The following words and terms related to drills and exercises, when used in this section, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. These definitions do not apply to an active threat exercise, which is defined in TEC, §37.1141, and associated rules, if any.

  (1) General terms.

    (A) Active aggressor--An individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.

    (B) Drill--A set of procedures that test a single, specific operation or function. Drills do not include persons role playing as active aggressors or other simulated threats. Drill examples include evacuating for a fire or locking down from an internal threat.

    (C) Exercise--An instrument to train for, assess, practice, and improve performance in mitigation, prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery in a risk-free environment. While drills and exercises may overlap in some aspects, discussion-based and operation-based exercises are often more in depth and multi-faceted.

  (2) Terms defining the level of exercise.

    (A) Full-scale exercise--Typically the most complex and resource-intensive type of exercise. It involves multiple agencies, organizations, and jurisdictions and validates many facets of preparedness. This exercise often includes many players operating under cooperative systems such as the Incident Command System (ICS) or Unified Command. Resources and staff are mobilized as needed. All actions are taken as if the emergency is real. A full-scale exercise is the most time-consuming activity in the exercise continuum and is a multiagency, multijurisdictional effort in which all resources are deployed. A full-scale exercise tests collaborations among the agencies and participants, public information systems, communication systems, and equipment. An Emergency Operations Center is established by either law enforcement or fire services, and the ICS is activated. Because of all the logistics and resources needed for a full-scale exercise, it often takes a year to plan and is not held often. Usually, a school district or an open-enrollment charter school is not the organizer of such an exercise, but the district or charter school would play a critical role in both function and potential facility use.

    (B) Functional exercise--Designed to validate and evaluate capabilities, multiple functions and/or sub-functions, or interdependent groups of functions. A functional exercise is typically focused on exercising plans, policies, procedures, and staff members involved in management, direction, command, and control functions. It allows participants to practice their specific roles or functions in an emergency. This type of exercise is conducted in a realistic, real-time simulated environment and often includes simulators (individuals who assist with the facilitation of the exercise) and follows a master scenario events list that dictates additional information, occurrences, or activities that affect the exercise scenario.

    (C) Seminar exercise--A discussion-based exercise designed to orient participants to new or updated plans, policies, or procedures through informal discussions. Seminar exercises are often used to impart new information and formulate new ideas.

    (D) Tabletop exercise--A small group discussion that walks through a scenario and the courses of action a school will need to take before, during, and after an emergency to lessen the impact on the school community. Participants problem-solve together through a detailed discussion of roles, responsibilities, and anticipated courses of action. A tabletop exercise leverages a defined scenario to direct discussion and may need an experienced facilitator depending on the complexity and objectives of the exercise.

    (E) Workshop exercise--A type of discussion-based exercise focused on increased participant interaction and achieving or building a product (e.g., plans or policies). A workshop exercise is typically used to test new ideas, processes, or procedures; train groups in coordinated activities; and obtain consensus. A workshop exercise often uses breakout sessions to explore parts of an issue with smaller groups.

  (3) Terms defining the type of drill.

    (A) Evacuation drill--A response action schools take to quickly move students and staff from one place to another. The primary objective of an evacuation is to ensure that all staff, students, and visitors can quickly move away from the threat. Evacuation examples include a bomb threat or internal gas leak.

    (B) Fire evacuation drill--A method of practicing how a building would be vacated in the event of a fire. The purpose of fire drills in buildings is to ensure that everyone knows how to exit safely as quickly as possible.

    (C) Lockdown drill--A response action schools take to secure (close, latch, and lock) interior portions of school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an immediate threat of violence inside the school. The primary objective is to quickly ensure all school students, staff, and visitors are secured away from immediate danger.

    (D) Secure drill--A response action schools take to secure (close, latch, and lock) the perimeter of school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose a threat or hazard outside of the school building. This type of drill uses the security of the physical facility to act as protection to deny entry.

    (E) Shelter-in-place for hazardous materials (hazmat) drill--A response action schools take to quickly move students, staff, and visitors indoors, perhaps for an extended period of time, because it is safer inside the building than outside. Affected individuals may be required to move to rooms without windows or to rooms that can be sealed. Examples of a shelter-in-place for hazmat drill include train derailment with chemical release or smoke from a nearby fire.

    (F) Shelter for severe weather drill--A response action schools take to quickly move students, staff, and visitors indoors, perhaps for an extended period of time, because it is safer inside the building than outside. For severe weather, depending on the type and/or threat level (watch versus warning), affected individuals may be required to move to rooms without windows on the lowest floor possible or to a weather shelter.

(c) Frequency. TEC, §37.114(2), requires the commissioner of education to designate the number of mandatory school drills to be conducted each semester of the school year, not to exceed eight drills each semester and sixteen drills for the entire school year. Neither this rule, nor the law, precludes a school district or an open-enrollment charter school from conducting more drills as deemed necessary and appropriate by the district or charter school. Following is the required minimum frequency of drills by type.

  (1) Secure drill--One per school year.

  (2) Lockdown drill--Two per school year (once per semester).

  (3) Evacuation drill--One per school year.

  (4) Shelter-in-place drill (for either severe weather or hazmat) --One per school year.

  (5) Fire evacuation drill--School districts and open-enrollment charter schools should consult with the local authority having jurisdiction (e.g., fire marshal) and comply with its requirements and recommendations. If a district does not have a local authority, it shall conduct four per school year (two per semester).

(d) Best practices for conducting drills and exercises. This subsection highlights best practices for conducting drills and exercises. For more information about best practices, refer to Texas School Safety Center guidance.

  (1) Drills and exercises should be designed and conducted in accordance with guidance and best practice resources provided by the Texas School Safety Center.

  (2) Drill and exercise design should include purpose, goals, and objectives that are stated in plans for each type of drill. Purpose, goals, and objectives should be developed with input from all sectors of the school community. Input in planning should be sought from multiple stakeholder perspectives for each type of drill and exercise, including from:

    (A) the district or charter school School Safety and Security Committee;

    (B) first responders;

    (C) mental and behavioral health professionals;

    (D) students and families; and

    (E) staff, including non-traditional teachers, coaches, trade instructors, custodians, and food service workers.

  (3) Drill and exercise design elements should include:

    (A) physical and psychological safety for all participants;

    (B) planning in a trauma-informed manner to maximize learning and to minimize potential trauma for students and staff;

    (C) providing advance notification of drills and exercises;

    (D) planning for post-drill or after-action reviews of each drill and exercise; and

    (E) ensuring drills and exercises are age and developmentally appropriate with the understanding that more complex drills and exercises will require a hierarchy of learning to achieve or obtain more advanced goals or objectives.

  (4) Exercises are more complex than drills. It is recommended that school systems start with discussion-based exercises and work up to operation-based exercises. Discussion-based exercises include seminar exercises, tabletop exercises, and workshop exercises. Operation-based exercises include functional exercises and full-scale exercises. Exercises can be used for:

    (A) testing and validating policies, plans, procedures, training, equipment, and interagency agreements;

    (B) clarifying and training personnel in roles and responsibilities;

    (C) improving interagency coordination and communications;

    (D) identifying gaps in resources;

    (E) improving individual performance; and

    (F) identifying opportunities for improvement.

Source Note: The provisions of this §103.1209 adopted to be effective September 6, 2020, 45 TexReg 6110; amended to be effective June 26, 2022, 47 TexReg 3536; amended to be effective October 10, 2023, 48 TexReg 5823

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