Earthquake Awareness and Preparedness
PPS strives to educate parents, staff and students on earthquake preparedness, in addition to recording, prioritizing and improving the seismic performance of its facilities in order to protect lives and prevent injuries in the event of an earthquake.
The safety of students is our top priority. We are preparing our schools for earthquakes through structural and non-structural mitigation, training, drills, supplies and partnerships.
All PPS schools are required to conduct at least 2 earthquake drills during the school year. The earthquake drills occur in October in observance of the Oregon Great Shake Out and in April in accordance with earthquake preparedness month.
In addition to the emergency drills, every school site has:
- Two-way radios to communicate with staff during an emergency in the event normal means of communication are not available.
- All classrooms are equipped with emergency buckets that store basic emergency supplies. Many school sites have additional stores of water and first aid supplies on or near school campuses.
During an earthquake, students and staff will:
- Drop, Cover, and Hold on until the shaking stops.
- Once the shaking has stopped, teachers will check for injured students in their classroom.
- Staff will evacuate everyone to the athletic field, playground, or other secured open area on campus. Evacuation is necessary following an earthquake because of possible damage to buildings and aftershocks.
- Each teacher has a designated area on the field for their students, and all students are accounted for.
- Every School site has an emergency team of school staff members. The emergency team conducts search and rescue, emergency first aid, and other disaster operations following an earthquake.
If damage is minor, buses and other transportation may proceed as normal. If damage is severe, buses cannot run and families must pick up children at school or at the designated reunification location. A controlled release may be set-up at each school site to allow parents to be reunified with their student. Parent/Guardians should keep in mind that reunification is a process that protects both the safety of the students and provides for an accountable change of custody from the school to a recognized custodial parent or guardian. Parent/Guardians can expect the reunification process to take several hours. We ask that parent/guardians have identification readily available when picking up students. Students will not be allowed to re-enter buildings until they have been inspected by a damage assessment team.
Family Reunification Plan
All PPS families should have a family reunification plan that includes how and who will pick up students in the event of a large disaster. Parent/Guardians are expected to pick up students at school or at the reunification location as soon as possible. When a parent/guardian cannot immediately get to the school site or designated reunification location the family plan should have pre-identified individuals who can pick up the student and those persons must be on the emergency contact list. If not listed as a designated emergency contact, the school will hold students until parents can pick up their child.
Plan your route to school using Portland Maps. Portland Maps can help you identify your route to pick up your students post disaster. The maps contain FEMA information on hazards and other public safety resources.
How you find out
If communication systems remain functional, PPS will inform families about how students will get home via the rapid broadcast system, district/school website, Facebook, Twitter, and the news media. For more information on communication and Parent/Student reunification, please see the following resource: Reuniting Students with Families.
Portland Public Schools requests that parents do NOT respond to a school site until they are notified of the reunification location.
******The only exception to this is in the event there is a City wide communication failure due to a large disaster and the District is unable to communicate with families. The District's expectation is that families will have a plan in place to pick up their students from school. The District recommends that you get to know neighbors near your students' school so that, in the event of a disaster, your student can be picked up in a timely manner. Please make sure all persons authorized to pick up students are included on the emergency contact list at school.******
Buildings and Bond Improvements
Buildings Seismic Reports
Seismic safety of our school facilities has been a priority of PPS for over 20 years. Please visit the Seismic Assessment Page to learn about the expected performance ratings of our schools, the various seismic studies that have been conducted over the past decade and the seismic rehabilitation grant program that PPS has received grant awards to date and has 9 applications submitted for the 2015 awards.
Bond Seismic Improvements
Seismic strengthening is an important component of the building improvement bond program. Please visit our Bond Seismic page to learn more about how PPS is using Bond funds to improve the seismic safety of our schools.
Emergency Preparation Links and Resources:
Emergency Preparedness starts at home. Make a Plan
Oregon Office of Emergency Management offers a wealth of preparedness information and tools including their new 2 weeks ready video series.
The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) has implemented a Basic Earthquake Communication (BEECN) Program and has placed BEECNs on 14 of our school campuses.
American Red Cross offers training and certification for individuals in many different areas of preparedness.
The Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup (CREW) is a coalition of private and public representatives working together to improve the ability of Cascadia Region communities, businesses and homeowners to reduce the effects of earthquakes.
FEMA has a mobile app that provides disaster survival tips, weather alerts, location of shelters and recovery centers and the ability to customize and carry your emergency family plan.
Get information on how our regional is preparing for disaster connect with the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization (RDPO).
We welcome parent volunteers to help our schools become more prepared and resilient. Many of our school parent groups have formed seismic safety committees at school. Some of the great work these committees are doing include:
- Get Ready Events, where an education and outreach night is hosted by the committee to educate parents about seismic risk and family preparedness.
- Developing creative ideas for gathering and storing emergency water, sheltering and first aid supplies.
- Working with building administrators to conduct non-structural hazards hunts and have assisted in the low cost, no cost mitigation efforts of these non-structural hazards.
- Helping schools connect and plan with neighborhood resources(local grocery stores, restaurants, NET's, emergency services) that could provide food, shelter and assistance during and after a large disaster.
- Coordinating reunification and other disaster drills with the whole parent and school community.
If you want more information about the preparedness efforts and how you can help, please contact the building administrator. If you have a facility related project idea to help improve seismic safety, you can visit the Volunteer Projects page. For all other preparedness ideas, please contact the school administrator.