In concordance with the six sequential tasks of PREPaRE, there are six sequential phases to constructing emergency online schools in the proposed professional training curriculum—two pre-disaster phases, two immediate pre/post-disaster phases, one post-disaster phase, and one post-disaster/ongoing phase. As indicted herein, the six phases of emergency online school construction are phase 1—emergency online school planning (pre-disaster), phase 2—dissemination, training, and rehearsal (pre-disaster), phase 3—warning and appraisal of basic needs (immediate pre/post-disaster), phase 4—psychological appraisal ( immediate pre/post-disaster), phase 5—intervention implementation (post-disaster), and phase 6—evaluation and reestablishment (post-disaster/ongoing). In addition to the PREPaRE training manual (Brock et al. 2009), other general resource that may be helpful for developing training on each phase and subcomponent of emergency online school construction include FEMA’s National Disaster Recovery Framework (available at www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1820-25045-5325/508_ndrf.pdf), the US Department of Education’s Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans( available at www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/oshs/rems-k-12-guide.pdf), and NASP’s School Safety and Crisis Resources (available at www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/index.aspx). Scholarly articles on emergency online schools, such as Rush (2013) and this and other future articles on emergency online schools also will likely serve as informative, credible sources of information on emergency online school construction. As applicable, other, more specific resources are indicated below and in Table 1. Suggestions for developing a professional training curriculum on emergency online school construction are outlined below and summarized in Table 1.
Phase 1—Emergency Online School Planning (pre-Disaster)
Like other large-scale crisis preparation and response plans, preparing an online school to use in the event of a natural disaster or other catastrophe is logistically and conceptually complex. As a result, emergency online school planning (phase 1) is the most comprehensive of the six phases of emergency online school construction. Rush’s (2013) four emergency online school planning tasks were adapted and expounded on by including each as a subcomponent of phase 1 of our larger, six-phase approach to constructing emergency online schools. In sequential order, the subcomponents of phase 1 are: (1) appraisal of available and needed resources and supports, (2) selecting online methods, (3) creating the online K–12 curriculum, and (4) planning crisis response services. Details of the subcomponents of phase 1, including recommended training hours (six total hours), are presented below and summarized in Table 1.
Appraisal of Available and Needed Resources and Supports
After a thorough assessment of available and needed resources and supports, school systems contemplating development of an emergency online school can better gauge if they are prepared for or wish to proceed with development or need to secure other resources and supports before moving forward. In the emergency online school professional training curriculum, trainees will expound on their interviewing and data collection skills to make assessments about the viability of developing emergency online schools under varying circumstances. Important issues to consider in this subcomponent include existing crisis preparedness and response plans, available expertise, access to technology, monetary costs, power sources, and particular characteristics of the school and community. To cover this subcomponent, we suggest approximately one and a half contact hours of discussion and selected reading assignments using the general disaster sources mentioned above, with an eye toward information on needs assessment.
Selecting Modes of Communication and Online Delivery
After an initial assessment of available and needed resource and other supports, schools moving forward with an emergency online school plan will likely have a better sense of communication and course delivery needs and the technology and resources that are practical and best fit those needs. Additionally, emergency online school developers have increasing options for selecting approaches to emergency communication and methods of creating, managing, and delivering courses. Therefore, in this subcomponent of phase 1, trainees will advance their knowledge of online tools and technological resources for selecting practical modes of communication and course delivery that are applicable to the many and varied situations possible for constructing emergency online schools. In addition to the general disaster resources mentioned previously, resources and other assistance from institution divisions of technology support and/or online learning will likely be useful for developing training for this subcomponent. Other useful resources for developing training on this subcomponent include Online and Blended Learning: A Survey of Policy and Practice from K–12 Schools Around the World (available at http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED537334.pdf) and Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning (Moore and Kearsley 2012), which also can serve as sources for reading assignments. To cover this subcomponent, we suggest approximately one and a half contact hours of training, including incorporation of case studies involving matching emergency online school technology to the needs and resources of various communities.
Creating the Online K–12 Curriculum
A major task for any online school is creating the online curriculum. Given any chosen means of course delivery, which can vary widely across circumstances, emergency online school developers have numerous options for designing curricula. As a result, trainees in this subcomponent will learn basic K–12 online curriculum development strategies applicable to a wide variety of needs, resources, and situations. Useful resources for developing training on this subcomponent include Moodle (available at www.moodle.org), a free online learning service used to create and deliver course content and manage the online learning environment, and the US Department of Education’s online-ready content (available at www.free.ed.gov), which is aligned with state educational standards in the USA. For institutions with access, Blackboard Learn (information available at www.blackboard.com) also may be a good resource for use with training on this subcomponent. To cover this subcomponent, we suggest approximately one and a half contact hours of training along with readings about and exercises working with the course management tools mentioned above.
Planning Disaster Response Services
Like physical schools, emergency online schools offer a means to both recognize problems and prioritize the provision of needed services when children are faced with a crisis. To that end, the major purpose of this subcomponent of the emergency online school professional training curriculum is to teach trainees how to use the mechanisms of an emergency online school to recognize, prioritize, and deliver disaster-related services to children and their families in response to a disaster or other catastrophic event. Trainees in this subcomponent of the professional training curriculum will combine their knowledge learned up to this point in the curriculum to design protocols for ascertaining needs, handling provision of services, and providing basic support and restorative mental health within the interconnected emergency online schools platform. We suggest approximately one and a half contact hours of training that reviews key points from previous training on online learning, online mental health, crisis response, electronic devices, and emergency power sources and incorporates hypothetical scenarios that trainees can use to begin to create protocols for recognizing, prioritizing, and delivering services within a functioning emergency online school. Training on this subcomponent may work best with a combination of guidance from trainers in the classroom in addition to accompanying homework assignments. Group work also may be an option for class work and homework for this subcomponent.
Phase 2—Dissemination, Training, and Rehearsal (Pre-Disaster)
Each subcomponent of dissemination, training, and rehearsal (phase 2) works together to form the initial emergency online school phase that places the complete plan into the hands of potential users and the final phase before the “active crisis” phases—phases 3, 4, and 5. During phase 2, trainees will study methods of regional and community information dissemination, running emergency online school training workshop for adults and children, and conducting practice drills and addressing concomitant questions and concerns. The subcomponents of phase 2 in their sequential order are: (1) disseminating the plan, (2) school personnel and student training, and (3) rehearsal. Although each subcomponent of phase 2 is presented below in its proper order, it should be noted that the subcomponents may tend to blend together more so than the discriminative subcomponents of phase 1. Important training resources used throughout this phase include the general disaster resources mentioned previously, which also are presented in Table 1. Details of the subcomponents of phase 2, including recommended training hours for each (six total hours), are presented below and summarized in Table 1.
Disseminating the Plan
After the basic emergency online school plan has been developed (i.e., completion of all development tasks mentioned in phase 1), stakeholders in the plan should be notified of the plan and any associated expectations. Dissemination should include educators, community leaders, children, parents, local emergency and related agencies, the media, and the general community. Dissemination of the plan can entail posting the plan on a Website, presenting the plan at meetings, presenting the plan through real-time video conferencing or through recorded video on video sharing sites, distributing hard copy information, disseminating through social media, advertisements on radio and television, or a combination of approaches. We suggest approximately two contact hours of training and assigning selected reading from the general disaster resources mentioned previously, particularly information on plan dissemination. Homework and/or in-class assignments may include creating a dissemination plan and developing a mechanism for dissemination, such as a video appropriate for posting on a video sharing site.
School Personnel and Student Training
Like implementation of any online program, educators need specific training on the online tools required for delivering the program, and children require training on how to learn and otherwise communicate via the online mechanisms used in the program. Training, however, should not stop at merely disseminating knowledge, but should gauge the degree to which educators and children have harnessed the skills necessary to effectively use emergency online school mechanisms. This subcomponent, therefore, is critical as it ensures that a minimal level of competency necessary for implementing an emergency online school is reached by both educators and the children they serve. For training on this subcomponent, we suggest approximately two contact hours of discussion and practice along with homework activities on developing an emergency online school training curriculum for children across the K–12 grades and their families, teachers, applicable support personnel, and other educators. Trainers also may consider obtaining feedback from K–12 school personnel regarding the understandability and viability of the curricula created by trainees.
A mainstay of any crisis plan is rehearsal of the plan (Brock et al. 2009; Jimerson et al. 2005; Young 2002, 1998). Rehearsing a disaster plan not only hones the skills necessary for children and adults to carry out the plan but also builds confidence and empowerment by allaying fear and anxiety due to uncertainty and perceived helplessness that would otherwise be present before, during, and after a disaster (Brock et al. 2009; Young 2002, 1998). Like other emergency drills (e.g., fire, tornado, earthquake, bomb, etc.), rehearsing use of an emergency online school plan requires dedicated time on a regular basis, including incorporation of any updates or changes to modes of online delivery or communication. Rehearsing use of an emergency online school also provides opportunities for feedback, refinement, and to address any questions or concerns. We suggest approximately two contact hours of training that emphasizes designing emergency online school rehearsal plans. Furthermore, we suggest that trainees develop rehearsal plans within the context of the school and educator curriculum developed in the previous subcomponent of this phase, school personnel and student training. Similar to the previous subcomponent, trainers may want to obtain feedback from K–12 school personnel regarding the merits of the rehearsal plans created by trainees.
Phase 3—Warning and Appraisal of Basic Needs (Immediate pre/Post-Disaster)
Warning and appraisal of basic needs (phase 3) is the first “active” phase of an emergency online school. That is, phase 3 begins when a disaster is looming (e.g., hurricane, pandemic) or happens without warning (e.g., earthquake, bombing). Warnings systems before and systematic appraisal of basic needs immediately after a disaster are foundational to school-based disaster response and set in motion critical disaster protocols (Brock et al. 2009; Jimerson et al. 2005). In the event of a disaster with opportunity for warning, physical schools can close in advance, while emergency online schools can continue schooling to the extent possible and simultaneously provide children and families an avenue to receive and transmit disaster-related communication to and from school personnel. After a disaster, with or without warning, the emergency online school infrastructure can provide a means for school personnel to identify children, families, and others who will need particular resources to satisfy basic needs and, as a result, appropriately allocate and prioritize such resources and, when necessary, inform emergency and other disaster personnel. Basic needs appraisal also can be beneficial as a preliminary indicator of possible needs for later psychological intervention.
Training on phase 3 will merge trainees’ knowledge and skills from previous coursework, such as counseling, consultation, observation, and human appraisal, with new knowledge in disaster preparation and response and use of online communication during times of disaster. Important training resources for this phase include the general disaster resources mentioned previously and the resources on mobile apps and social media mentioned for foundational knowledge area 5, all of which are presented in Table 1. Trainers also may want to consider incorporating other resources from previous courses in the areas mentioned above. We suggest approximately three contact hours of instruction that includes case studies and role play. Likewise, homework assignments for this phase also should entail practical applications, such as individual or group case study assignments. Details of phase 3 are summarized in Table 1.
Phase 4—Psychological Appraisal (Immediate pre/Post-Disaster)
Psychological appraisal (phase 4) is predicated on a properly designed and implemented emergency online school infrastructure and precedes actual post-disaster intervention. Phase 4 has some overlap with previous phases, most notably phase 3—warning and appraisal of basic needs. As individuals’ reactions become apparent to school personnel during previous phases, such reactions serve as a preliminary indicator of mental health intervention priorities that may be necessary after a disaster. For instance, children with preexisting mental health concerns will warrant special attention after a disaster in addition to any preventive measures already in place. During or after a disaster, children and families who are the most severely affected (e.g., experienced death of a family member) or show significant psychological signs (e.g., withdrawal, hysteria, etc.) also will need prioritized consideration for mental health interventions. Training on phase 4 will emphasize recognition of post disaster mental health warning signs and other mental health or disability needs. Important training resources for this phase include the general disaster resources mentioned previously, particularly information on psychological appraisal during times of disaster (see Table 1). We suggest approximately three contact hours of instruction with emphasis on addressing a variety of hypothetical case studies along with homework assignments with a case study emphasis. Details of phase 4 are summarized in Table 1.
Phase 5—Intervention Implementation (Post-Disaster)
Intervention implementation (phase 5) is the point in the emergency online school phases when tangible interventions are offered. Phase 5 addresses the provision of basic needs and other supports as well as psychological interventions. A key component of training on phase 5 includes discussion of evidenced-based practices in online mental health and school-based crisis intervention for various disaster scenarios at the child, family, classroom, school, and school system levels. This phase also will address teacher- and family-initiated interventions as well as interventions provided by mental health professionals. Important training resources for this phase include the general disaster resources mentioned previously along with the resources mentioned regarding online mental health in foundational knowledge area 4 and mobile apps and social media in foundational knowledge area 5. Additionally, we suggest incorporation of evidenced-based literature on teacher- and family-initiated interventions after disaster into training on this phase, such as research by Wolmer, Hamiel, and Laor (2011) and Wolmer, Laor, Dedeoglu, Siev, and Yazgan (2005) and information from SAMHSA (available at www.samhsa.gov/trauma) and NASP (available at www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/#natural) among others. We suggest approximately three contact hours of instruction, including case study and role play simulations, with homework assignments entailing readings from the resources mentioned above and case study exercises. Details of phase 5 are summarized in Table 1.
Phase 6—Evaluation and Reestablishment (Post-Disaster/Ongoing)
Although evaluation and reestablishment (phase 6) is the last of the emergency online school phases, the phase begins at the moment a disaster becomes apparent, either by warning or by actual occurrence. However, phase 6 is the only phase that lasts indefinitely and requires data collection and analysis. The goal of phase 6 is to gauge the effectiveness and allocation of psychological interventions and resources and determine necessary changes, including reintegrating back to the physical school environment. Training on this phase will entail use of the general disaster resources mentioned previously and the specific resources from SAMHSA and NASP mentioned for use with phase 5, all of which are presented din Table 1. We suggest approximately three contact hours of instruction in addition to reading assignments from the aforementioned resources, with particular emphasis on progress monitoring and follow-up. Details of phase 6 are summarized in Table 1.