Supercharge Your Tabletop Exercise

We have been helping districts with tabletop exercises for years. Currently, schools are returning to in-person teaching and learning. The stress and concern related to the pandemic continues to affect students, staff, and their families. The education community is very aware of the potential mental health issues that accompany this ongoing stress and concern. Fortunately, the community is taking steps to improve early recognition and intervention for those needing special care. As we return to the classroom, it is important for us to recognize that school safety risks are also impacted by this concern. Preparedness is more important than ever. Where do we start? It begins with training of the school safety team and other staff regarding their roles and responsibilities during an emergency at school.

What are tabletop exercises?

Tabletop exercises allow a school safety team to put their safety training to a test in a safe and relatively stress-free setting. Tabletop exercises (TTX) are discussion-based exercises regarding a hypothetical, simulated emergency scenario. The TTX is intended to improve general awareness and validate plans and procedures to enhance conceptual understanding of roles and responsibilities, identify potential tactics and responses, uncover gaps and areas for improvement, and achieve changes in perceptions.

So how do you start?

The following steps can supercharge a tabletop exercise assumes that two-way radios are a part of a school’s emergency communication plan.

  1. Choose a school-based emergency incident and write a 2 to 3 sentence description
  2. Gather the participants (with their radios) and explain the exercise process
  3. Send the person who will be in charge of the incident (the Incident Commander) out of the room with their radio
  4. Display the scenario on a screen to the participants in the room
  5. Ask one person to summarize the scenario and use the radio to report it to the Incident Commander (IC)
  6. The IC will use that information to size up the situation, form a response plan, and begin assigning response tasks to the participants by using the radio to communicate. Example: direct a specific person to call 911. Continue this for 60-90 seconds or until the IC runs out of task assignments
  7. Bring the IC back into the room and conduct a “hotwash” to discuss how effective the radio communications were: what went well with the task assignments and the order of the assignments, and what could be improved.

Finally, during the hotwash, discussions of who should do what and when are valuable to help people understand and apply their training regarding their roles and responsibilities during a particular emergency event. Using the radio to “work” the scenario brings a level of realism to the tabletop discussions that helps to supercharge the learning.
Want to discuss further? Contact us!

Motorola Solutions' manufacturer recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting your two way radios

Cleaning & Disinfecting Your Two-Way Radios

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our customers have been working tirelessly to adhere to the CDC guidelines to provide a safe and healthy environment at schools. Mitigating virus transmissions has been the focal point of many school district’s COVID-19 Hazard Assessment Plans. From what we have learned, masks, social distancing, frequent disinfecting, and hand sanitizing measures have all been implemented throughout many school districts in Colorado. 


SchoolSAFE’s solution is training and radio-based. As more and more schools open their doors to in-person learning, we have had requests for radio disinfecting “best practices.” For levity, we have even had a customer ask if they could dunk their entire radio in bleach. Yes, this would certainly be effective in eliminating any viruses on the radio. But this could render the radio completely useless as the electronics could corrode between the metal and the circuit board. This can lead to radio transmission issues. Please do not dunk your radio in any form of liquid. Additionally, some disinfecting chemicals can compromise the materials of the radio. 

So, the radio manufacturers with which we have partnered have provided guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting two-way radios. Below is a resource for your schools and district to improve radio hygiene by safely cleaning and disinfecting the radio. And, you can also find a print out for your schools here. 

Please contact us with any questions, we are always here to help.

Reopening K-12 Schools

How do schools reopen in the fall with the ever-changing COVID-19 recommendations? The CDC provides some guidance.

We have been so impressed with school districts’ ability to adapt to the COVID-19 restrictions going on throughout Colorado. Currently, we are working with districts on continuing trainings for the next school year. We are also having discussions about what the school climate may look like in the fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the leading, national public health institute of the United States. They have provided a decision tree to assist administrators in making school reopening decisions regarding K-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of course, districts need to take their local and state recommendations into consideration. This could be a useful tool for administrators looking toward the 2020-2021 school year.
Want to discuss with us? Contact us.

CDC’s Tool to Assist Administrators’ Decision-Making During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dig Out from the Shifting Sands of Priority

A District Security Personnel’s Perspective

Since schools are temporarily closed in Colorado due to the spread of COVID-19, I’m thinking back to my career in K-12 public schools and what I can do with extra time on my hands. During the school year, I remember being very busy with day-to-day things that would come up and feeling like the things that were important were being buried under the urgencies of the day. As a year-round employee, I remember looking forward to Summer Break, or even the brief respite of Winter Break that allowed me to do things I knew were important.

So now, with time on my hands, unable to go to the office each day, what do I do to continue working on our district’s safety? I’m getting paid, I have a job, and I have some short, medium, and long-term goals I’ve been trying to make time for – what a great opportunity! Should I spend a little extra time forming my persuasive arguments for that grant request that would give me the resources to move a project forward? Yes, a resounding yes! After all, chances of getting limited school district funds allocated to this school safety project are slim, there are simply too many other priorities competing for the funds. Now that I have some alone time without the latest mini-crisis erupting at one of my schools, I can do some research, gather my thoughts, and make my best case why my district is deserving of these funds.

Could I also spend some time re-visiting the FEMA online safety courses I last took four years ago? Yes! I’m guessing they have been updated since I last took the course and I have the opportunity to follow the links to learn more. I am finally able to delve more deeply into these topics that might make a difference and will certainly make me more informed, perhaps even leading to better decisions the next time our district crisis team comes together to deal with any crisis: the broken water main, the science room mishap that became a HAZMAT release, the latest bomb threat, or the 100 white mice released at the high school as the Senior Prank of the year.

When was the last time I checked to be sure I had the right names and numbers in the Crisis Plan for the health department, or the disaster recovery company? I’ve got a little time, why not look it up, make a few calls, and be more prepared to call the indoor air quality firm to do air testing the next time a student spills a jar of mercury he found in his grandfather’s garage in the middle of the cafeteria at lunchtime? I can’t remember the last time I chatted with the SRO sergeant; I wonder how she’s doing?

Yes, even though I’m at home for the next few weeks with this social distancing, there’s still plenty of work I could get done. My binge watching of Better Call Saul can wait, I’ve got some work to do.