New Fact Sheet on Modifying Exercises and Drills in the Face of the Pandemic

REMS Fact Sheets

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has presented various challenges for education agencies and their whole school community partners. From creating plans to help ensure continuity of teaching and learning via in-person, virtual, or hybrid models to adjusting plans to help ensure that feeding and food distribution can continue, school safety planning partners have displayed their commitment to safe and supportive learning environments.

Schools, school districts, state education agencies, and regional education agencies have also faced the challenge of modifying exercises and drills in order to protect students, faculty, staff, and the whole school community and continue to meet their exercise-related requirements. The COVID-19 pandemic presents new public health and safety requirements that school safety planning partners must consider and plan for in collaboration with education leaders and public health and emergency management partners.

The REMS TA Center is pleased to announce a NEW fact sheet that presents 10 recommendations for modifying exercises (walk-throughs, tabletops, drills, full-scale drills). While there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to the challenge of ensuring that exercise requirements are met in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the recommendations below may be used by education agency planning teams and partners responsible for modifying exercises and drills in response to the pandemic.

Key Considerations When Modifying School-Based Exercises

  • Collaborate with school, district, and community partners.
  • Educate the whole school community on how masks and personal protective equipment will be integrated into the exercise and drill setting.
  • Consider smaller-scaled drills that are staggered over an extended period of time.
  • Consider conducting role-based and classroom-based exercises and drills.
  • Consider how evacuation meeting point designations will be modified.
  • Create and apply virtual exercise and drill models.
  • Integrate school safety-based tabletop exercises into staff meetings and other faculty- and staff-based professional development offerings.
  • Reinforce the importance of creating and practicing family emergency plans.
  • Work with partners to promote community-wide safety that highlights the importance of preparedness, including creating and practicing emergency plans.
  • Consult the education agency’s general counsel.

Has your agency modified plans to conduct exercises and drills in the face of the pandemic? Do you have additional recommendations to add to the list? Share them and details on success stories, lessons learned, challenges, and solutions via the REMS TA Center Community of Practice.

REMS TA Center Resource Snapshot
The REMS TA Center offers a variety of virtual training tools, including Virtual Trainings by Request, Specialized Training Packages, online courses, and Webinars, that education agency leaders can use to help in these efforts and planning for professional development of all staff.

Emergency Exercises Package. Download this package and conduct a tabletop exercise at your school site with its contents. Included are an introduction to emergency exercises, tabletop exercise instructions, tabletop exercise scenarios/injects and podcasts for a power outage and infectious disease outbreak, and accompanying resources. This package is designed to help schools and school districts strengthen emergency operations plans (EOPs) and identify gaps and weaknesses and may be used virtually.

EOP ASSIST. Use this Web-accessible software application to create and update high-quality school EOPs. Recent enhancements include the ability to document, schedule, and track exercises at education agencies. EOP ASSIST even features a filterable “exercises dashboard” that contains information on drills, tabletop exercises, and other exercises and presents summary data.


Take a Virtual Training Use an EOP Interactive Tool Join the Community of Practice Access State Emergency Management Resources Fill Our Toolbox Download Our Emergency Management Virtual Toolkit


If you have any questions or need additional assistance,
please contact the REMS TA CENTER at 1-855-781-REMS [7367]
or via email at

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