An online preparedness guide and consulting for school leaders.

Risk Assessment and Impact Analysis

“For the Lord heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.” Psalm 69:33

Risk Assessment Defined

According to the website, a risk assessment is defined as “a process to identify potential hazards and analyze what could happen if a hazard occurs.” The primary goal of the risk assessment and impact analysis report is to identify the risks and how they could potentially affect the School.

A School Risk/Impact Analysis predicts the consequences of disruption of a School function and process and gathers information needed to develop recovery strategies. Potential loss scenarios should be identified during a risk assessment. Operations may also be interrupted by the failure of a supplier of goods or services or delayed deliveries.

Conducting a risk assessment and impact analysis is foundational to developing your ReadySchool Emergency Operations Plans.

Conducting a Risk Assessment

There are numerous potential hazards to consider when conducting a Risk Assessment. For each hazard there are many possible scenarios that could unfold depending on timing, magnitude and location of the hazard.

There are many “assets” at risk from hazards. First and foremost, injuries to people should be the first consideration of the Risk Assessment. Hazard scenarios that could cause significant injuries should be highlighted to ensure that appropriate emergency plans are in place. Many other physical assets may be at risk. These include buildings, information technology, utility systems, machinery, raw materials and finished goods. Consider the impact an incident could have on your relationships with customers, the surrounding community, your School members, and other stakeholders. Consider situations that would cause your members to lose confidence in your School and/or School and its services.

As you conduct the Risk Assessment, look for vulnerabilities – weaknesses – that would make an asset more susceptible to damage from a hazard. Vulnerabilities include deficiencies in building construction, process systems, security, protection systems and loss prevention programs. They contribute to the severity of damage when an incident occurs.

A list of common threats and risks that face Schools can be found in the downloaded material called “Identifying Types of Crises and Disasters.” CEN recommends reviewing that list while filling out the Risk Assessment Template.

Conducting an Impact Analysis

Once you’ve identified potential risks to your School by completing the risk assessment, the School Impact Analysis is designed to identify the operational and financial impacts resulting from the disruption of School functions and processes. Some of the impacts to consider include:

  • Lost finances

  • Loss of leadership

  • Loss of property

  • Criminal impacts

  • Increased expenses

Timing and Duration of Disruption

The point in time when a School function or process is disrupted can have a significant bearing on the loss sustained. A School with an active shooter incident during the week versus on a weekend or at a sporting event or after-school activities is an example of the difference in impact. A principal being sick for a week versus facing a debilitating chronic illness also impacts the speed of return to “normalcy” in the School. A short duration of illness may be easily overcome by having an associate principal take care of the administrative responsibilities whereas a longer disruption could have a more significant impact.

Sample School Disruption Scenarios

  • Physical damage to a building

  • Restricted access to a site or building

  • Interruption of instruction

  • Utility outage

  • Damage to, loss of or corruption of information technology including voice and data communications, servers, computers, operating systems, applications and data

  • Absenteeism/illness of essential employees

The graphic below explains the process of designing an Impact Analysis.

Conducting the School Impact Analysis

You can use a School Impact Analysis to survey staff, School leaders, volunteers and others in the school community to discover how the School operates. Ask them to identify the potential impacts if the School function or process that they are responsible for is interrupted. The School Impact Analysis should also identify the critical School processes and resources needed for the School to continue to function at different levels. 

Writing an Impact Analysis Report

The School Impact Analysis report should document the potential impacts resulting from disruption of School functions and processes. Scenarios resulting in significant School interruption should be assessed in terms of financial impact, if possible. These costs should be compared with the costs for possible recovery strategies.

The School Impact Analysis report should prioritize the order of events for restoration of the School. School processes with the greatest operational and financial impacts should be restored first. The Impact Analysis Report is NOT designed to address a solution to the potential risks. Those will be addressed in the Emergency Operations Plan.

Identifying Types of Crises and Disasters

  • Internal Incidents (to your personnel and facilities)

  • Lockdown of facilities

  • Intruder, weapon, threat

  • Suicide (actual, threat, or attempt)

  • Kidnapping, abduction, or missing person

  • Death

  • Staff/volunteer

  • School member

  • Family member

  • Minor

  • Accident or serious injury (on and off site)

  • Medical emergency or assessment

  • Fire, explosion

  • Bomb threat

  • Bomb or suspicious device

  • Assault

  • Robbery, theft

  • Poison

  • Severe weather

  • Hurricane

  • Flood

  • Tornado

  • Earthquake

  • Blizzard

  • Safe shelters within facility

  • Electrical outage

  • Utility shut-off

  • School/school closing

  • Spilled body fluids

  • Child abuse report

  • Community/Regional Incidents (in your community, but not impacting you directly...but may cause you to become involved)

  • Civil disturbance

  • Hazardous chemical spill

  • Severe weather

  • Mass destruction or displacement

  • Providing emergency shelter and/or support (e.g. feeding center)

  • National Incidents (not in your immediate area)

  • Homeland Security Advisory

  • Nuclear, biological, chemical

  • Other national incidents

  • Traveling to respond to a national disaster


Complete the Risk Assessment and Impact Analysis in Appendix F to gather data and information for completing your School Emergency Operations Plan. In addition, we have included Appendix G Preparedness Focus Areas to provide a sample of areas of focus for your planning.