|(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(C) improving interagency coordination and communications;
(D) identifying gaps in resources;
(E) improving individual performance; and
(F) identifying opportunities for improvement.