How to Protect Your School from Terrorist Attacks, Evacuations, and Tragedies

Today’s leaders of schools and universities around the world deal with a plethora of issues and challenges ranging from political violence, lock-downs, data breaches to ISIS threats.

These are just some of problems that institutions face and should have a proactive plan and protection in place. You may have heard about the rise in terrorist attacks, kidnappings, evacuations, and other tragedies occurring in schools all over the world. While many of these atrocities involve national schools, international schools are also at risk.  

  1. In March 2016, it was reported that an extremist in Jakarta was targeting a local university for a terrorist attack. This is a country that has several English-language international schools attended by the children of wealthy Indonesians and expatriates, including many embassy staff. Although the attack was thwarted, sadly, the same can’t be said for many other threats to schools and universities around the world.
  2. In January 2016, dozens of students from Columbia and Barnard College were killed in a bus accident in Honduras.
  3. In December of 2015, Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces carried out numerous air strikes targeting Yemen schools that were occupied, well aware they were in violation of international humanitarian law.
  4. In September of 2015 in Mexico, 43 students were abducted by police on order of a local mayor, and are believed to have been turned over to a gang that killed them and burned their bodies.
  5. In April 2015, 147 people were killed and another 79 injured when heavily armed al-Shabab militants bombed Garissa University College in Kenya.
  6. In March of 2015, Boko Haram militants kidnapped some 400 women and school children in the remote Nigerian town of Damasak over a year ago and they are still missing.
  7. In December of 2011, a half-filled school bus ferrying students home from a primary school in rural China rolled into an irrigation canal, killing 15 children and injuring 8 others.

Rising Cyber Liability Lawsuits in Schools  

Another area where most schools are trying to protect themselves is in cyber liability, reflecting the growing threat hacking poses to personal data.

  • Case #1: In September of 2015, the Dothan City, Alabama school board allocated $25,000 to purchase cyber liability insurance to cover the board in case a cyber-attacker gained access to district information.  The school was responding to the onslaught of computer data breaches that are happening in the country, which have resulted in personal records, IQ tests and psychological assessments falling into the hands of hackers.
  • Case #2: Although not cyber-related, a breach occurred in a Minnesota school in April 2015 when a student found some personal records of another student near the trash (it had fallen out) and used the information to taunt that student. The victim’s family sued the school over poor data security and won more than $150,000 in damages.

Having the cyber liability insurance can protect a school or university from data breaches and costs of informing constituents about data breaches, damages to a third-party system, cyber extortion, court attendance courts and business interruption associated with the breach.

How to Protect Your School from Terrorist Attacks

A recent story in Education World revealed that of chief concern to many school principals and educators around the world is the onset of war and heightened terrorist alerts. Many schools are now creating terrorism preparedness plans with school staff, community agencies and security consultants.  

“The vast majority of schools have not taken into account in their crisis planning all of the issues related to terrorism,” said Kenneth A. Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, a consulting firm. “Some issues, such as handling bombs and bomb threats, creating emergency communications plans, and preparing for gunfire on campus should already have been in the plans.”

Schools should also create strategies to prevent access to sensitive data on school computers and make plans for safe relocation of students with advice from local fire, police, HAZMAT, and emergency management officials.

The National School Safety and Security Services notes that the key to successfully preparing school communities without creating panic is for school and public safety officials to be candid about the possibility that schools can be impacted by terrorism. 

Be Proactive and Develop a Risk Mitigation Plan

Saftety.com advises 5 tips that schools should do to prepare for emergencies including:

  1. Defining the perimeter with fences
  2. Using security technology for monitoring purposes
  3. Reducing entry points to one door where staff can see visitors and question strangers
  4. Locking windows at the end of the day
  5. Preventing access to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, boiler rooms, utility controls, and chemical and cleaning product storage areas

Important questions to consider when preparing for a school evacuation:

  1. If something were to happen, what is the school instructed to do?
  2. Will the school release students? Do parents need to pick their children up?
  3. Does the school have updated emergency phone numbers for everyone in the family?
  4. Are students, teachers, and school property covered by the school’s insurance policy?

Schools and higher learning universities around the world need to do their part in protecting those who attend and prepare for the worst. The students are under their care and should feel safe while in classes.

The first thing that any school or university should do is build out a plan for their school that safeguards their staff and students from tragedies and evacuations stemming from political violence, bombings, kidnappings, bus accidents, etc. This can best be done with different types of coverage and insurance solutions.

Clements Worldwide is an important partner when it comes to meeting the insurance needs of the international school community around the world.  Clements offers the 4 key types of recommended insurance that every school should consider:

  • Political Evacuation and Salary Continuation Insurance: Protects an international university or school and its staff from unforeseen financial consequences associated with the evacuation of personnel due to political instability or military confrontation.  The policy can also be extended for evacuations resulting from a natural disaster or a pandemic.
  • War and Terrorism Insurance Coverage and Political Violence Extension:  This policy extension protects your school or university if it suffers damage property damage as a result of war or terrorism.  You should also ensure all benefits policies including medical, disability, life insurance, and travel accidents have no exclusions for political violence.
  • General Liability Insurance: This policy will protect schools from harm to their students as a result of a bus injury or accident that happens on or away from school grounds. It covers medical expenses for staff and students and protects against all general liability exposures.  A travel accident extension may also provide extended coverage for students, teachers, administrators, and volunteers who travel for sporting events or field trips away from school grounds. 

As a partner in risk mitigation, Clements can create a customized plan for your international school insurance coverage that will help to keep your staff and students safe. 

Call us today at +1.202.872.0060 or 800.872.0067 or e-mail request@clements.com to speak to one of our insurance specialists and obtain a DBA quote. 

Learn More about International School Coverage