Primary education in the United States is an important cornerstone for communities, families, and students. For this reason, the relationships that are fostered through primary education facilities can be used to attend to and mitigate disasters. Social media innovations make these relationships even more important by allowing for near-instant communication among schools and community members. Yet very little literature has examined the unique communication environment that schools face or how they prepare to address crises.
This chapter examines risk and crisis communication in K-12 education through an in-depth analysis of schools in a large East Coast state in the United States. The evaluation reports on the content analysis of 611 crisis-related social media posts from 22 school systems and on a survey of 132 teachers, school nurses, principals, superintendents, and school safety administrators about their experiences and communication preparation for crises. Findings provide insights into how schools can improve risk and crisis communication preparation. Such efforts not only would contribute to keeping children safe but would do the same for nearby communities that often rely on schools as centralized locations for post-disaster assistance.