Background: School systems often have the vital responsibility of protecting students during emergency situations. Collaborations with the local health department (LHD) can be invaluable in helping schools effectively fulfill this responsibility.
Purpose: An evaluation of existing organizational collaborations is needed to describe attitudes toward current efforts and to form recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of future joint programs.
Methods: Questionnaires regarding perceptions of existing collaborations were distributed to a sample of LHDs and schools districts in spring and summer 2011. Participant responses from each organization were paired on jurisdictional area, forming 25 paired observations. Analyses were conducted in early 2012. Descriptive statistics of selected variables were computed and differences between paired LHD and school district responses were analyzed.
Results: Results showed that school districts and LHDs both rated engagement between organizations in emergency preparedness as extremely important. Each gave high ratings on success and satisfaction of current efforts. Organizations had significant differences in ratings measuring their agreement with specific collaboration drawbacks.
Implications: These results suggest the potential for extended and enhanced collaborations, although future programs might be most effectively implemented when tailored to limit the perceived drawbacks of individual organizations. Continued and improved collaborations between school districts and their local health departments will help to increase the school systems’ abilities to adequately prepare for and respond to the needs of the children they serve in the event of an emergency.
O'Keefe KA, Arrington KD, Prelip M, Shoaf KI. Perceptions of School and Health Department Emergency Preparedness Collaboration. Front Public Health Serv Syst Res