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Creating a Continuity of Operations Plan


A Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) documents how an organization will perform essential operations during an emergency situation or long- term disruption, which might last 2 days to several weeks.

Each Division, College and Department needs a COOP to ensure the University can respond effectively to a variety of situations. The plan could be activated in response to a wide range of events or situations – from a fire in the building; to a pandemic; to the threat or occurrence of an attack-related event. Any incident that makes it impossible for employees to work or learn in their regular facility could result in the activation of the Continuity Plan.

COOP planning done properly requires a deep look at your functions and required resources; however, this list of questions will facilitate the creation of an abbreviated COOP that can be used in the short term and also serve as the base for an expanded COOP when time allows.

Succession Planning

Who are the individuals in order of succession, who can make operational decisions if the head of the unit is absent or unavailable (list at least three).

Collect name, cell phone number, home number (if applicable) and office number for your list in the case contact needs to be made after hours.

Identify Essential Personnel and Functions

Identify your critical functions – those functions critical to the operation of the unit in an emergency. Assign a “Level of Criticality” to each function to prioritize functions. For example:

  • Critical 1: Must continue (Life, health, security)
  • Critical 2: Must continue, perhaps in reduced mode
  • Critical 3: Pause if forced, but must resume in 30 days or sooner
  • Deferrable: Resume when conditions permit

Identify essential personnel – those personnel whose presence is required for the critical functions identified above, and whose absence from duty could endanger the safety and well-being of the campus population and/or the operational functions of the university. For each function, identify at least two individuals who can fulfill the needed function.

Determine your Mitigation Strategies

Describe the steps you can take to minimize the effects of a major suspension to your daily operations. For example, you may want to stock up on certain supplies, develop alternative working conditions, online learning shift, etc. For example:

  • “Continue learning during campus closures by having all instructors load their syllabi and lesson plans on Blackboard”
  • “Have pre-planned academic assignments that isolated students can accomplish during pandemic events”
  • “Use digital learning tools to teach in virtual locations when campus buildings are not available”
  • “In the first phase of an emergency, we will direct our Critical 3 or Deferrable employees to work//stay home.”

Share your plan

Once you have completed your Continuity Plan, send to your Vice President with a copy to the Office of Emergency Management: The Office of Emergency Management is available at any time to assist you with your plan, including putting your plan into a continuity of operations planning tool: call (208) 426-4346 or email