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P-12 Operations Office

New York State Education Department Seal
Office of P-12 Education
Operations Office
89 Washington Ave., Room 2M West EB • Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 486-4662 Email:
District Superintendents
Superintendents of Schools
Charles A. Szuberla, Jr.
Red Cross Sheltering Agreements
February 10, 2004

New York State has traditionally taken an active role in working with the American Red Cross. School facilities are generally perceived as safe havens during emergencies and disasters. Commissioner's Regulation 155.17(f) further addresses this issue by stating that boards of education "….shall cooperate with appropriate State, county, and city agencies in developing agreements for the use of school-owned facilities and vehicles during a disaster."

Accordingly, the State Education Department has long stressed the importance of schools working with their local Red Cross chapter in completing a Statement of Agreement Concerning The Use Of Facilities As Mass Care Shelters By The American Red Cross. The agreement states that after meeting its responsibilities to pupils, schools will permit their facilities to be used by the Red Cross as shelters. In addition, the Red Cross will reimburse the school for food and supplies used during the school's use as a shelter. Finally, the Red Cross will defend, hold harmless, and indemnify the school district against legal liability arising from the negligence of the Red Cross.

While the completion of a Red Cross sheltering agreement is key, a shelter cannot open unless a Red Cross-trained individual is present to serve as the shelter manager. It would be valuable for school employees to volunteer to complete the Red Cross shelter manager training and serve as shelter managers for Red Cross shelters in the school district. This would achieve two main objectives: school employees are most familiar with their own school buildings and would be the most effective and efficient shelter managers. Secondly, school district employees serving as Red Cross volunteer shelter managers will enable the district to be prepared to aid the community in time of need.

Some key shelter manager responsibilities include:

  • Determining the shelter layout and assigning shelter staff
  • Assessing feeding options
  • Ensuring that shelter residents are kept current on the disaster and recovery process
  • Inspecting the shelter for safety and sanitation
  • Coordinating plans to close the shelter.

Information on Red Cross shelter agreements and manager training may be obtained by contacting John Coffey, Red Cross Liaison to SEMO at 518-457-8909 or your local Red Cross chapter. Contact Laura Sahr, SED Emergency Planning Liaison, for further assistance on school emergency planning issues at or 518-474-3906.