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Tsunami Evacuation during COVID-19: A Guide for School Administrators

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to disaster preparedness and response. In planning safe evacuation from disaster events, physical distancing and hygiene practices need to be observed. As a result, disaster and tsunami preparedness plans need to be reviewed and updated to address the challenges brought about by the current pandemic. In view of this, UNDRR and UNDP have developed this Guide for School Administrators, based on best practices from Japan and elsewhere.

This Guide complements the 2019 Regional Guide for Schools to Prepare for Tsunamis. The Guide proposes additional measures that School Administrators need to implement in tsunami evacuation centres. These evacuation centres may be either of the following:

  1. Designated safe evacuation centres close to a tsunami-prone school where school children and staff are meant to evacuate to, or
  2. Designated safe evacuation area within a school’s premise (such as a top floor) that may be safe from being inundated.

While the evacuation centres in both cases are primarily meant for school children and staff, parents and community members may also be accommodated depending on the designated evacuation centre. In many countries, schools are often used as evacuation centres as they can accommodate a large number of people. This Guide will also propose measures that must be taken to ensure adequate screening is undertaken for non-school members and that safety and security of school children are ensured.

The Guide provides step by step instructions for School Administrators to take prior to an emergency, during the evacuation and within the evacuation centre, with the view to prevent the spread of infectious diseases during a tsunami event. The Guide is divided into three main sections:

  1. Updated facts from recent Tsunami and disaster events
  2. Challenges associated with COVID-19 and additional evacuation measures
  3. Checklist for school evacuation centres in view of COVID-19.