Pandemic Preparedness Kansas SJI Project


Excerpted from the KANSAS SJI Project Conducted by NCSC- Court Consulting Services Division II.

Pandemic Preparedness

A. The Supreme Court recognizes emergency preparedness planning and response to a pandemic or related event must be considered separately due to the unique nature of a pandemic.

B. The Judicial Branch ECO and other assigned staff will initiate the development of a strategy to be prepared to respond and recover from the unique emergency situation brought about by an influenza pandemic or related event.

C. The strategy for pandemic influenza will be designed to build upon the national, state and local efforts on pandemic influenza currently underway.

D. The strategy will build upon and perhaps modify elements of the COOP to deal with this unique emergency situation.

            1.  While 30 days is generally the accepted length of time for operations to be scaled back to mission essential 
                functions, in a pandemic 90 days may be a more realistic timeframe. Plans should allow flexibility to adjust 
                timeframes as more information regarding a possible pandemic becomes available.

            2. Planning tasks should be established to modify the COOP to allow for 90 days of COOP activation and the    
                performance of mission essential functions with no, or limited, face-to-face contact. These tasks may 

                    a. Engaging state and local health officials in advance.

                    b. Preparing for the legal considerations brought about in a pandemic, especially those associated 
                        with issues of quarantine and/or isolation.

                    c. Ensuring court information technology resources are available to perform all appropriate mission 
                        essential functions with no, or limited, face-to-face contact.

                    d. Providing education to all judges and non-judicial employees regarding the threat posed by an
                        influenza pandemic.

                    e. Ensuring all means of emergency communication are designed to function under conditions where 
                        there is no, or limited, face-to-face contact.

                    f. Strengthening the CSEOTs to ensure each member is prepared to perform their assigned mission 
                       essential function under conditions where no, or limited, face-to-face contact is available.

                    g. Considering the development of a work group made up of jury managers to develop 
                        recommendations for restoring jury trials under conditions where no, or limited, face-to-face 
                        contact is available.



Planning for a Pandemic

A COOP plan typically assumes that a court facility is unavailable at least 30 or more days and essential functions must be performed by an emergency response team comprised of a small cadre of subject matter experts from each court office at an alternate site or sites.

During a pandemic, the courthouse or other court facilities may be intact, open, and available but internal resources, e.g., personnel, and external resources (law enforcement, counsel, jurors, and vendors) are unavailable. Essential functions could be performed in the court facility, through work-at-home telecommuting arrangements (aka alternate sites), through remote access such as video conferencing, or through a combination of locations and technologies.

The overall COOP plan governance and response structures apply to any disaster, but courts should consider the following assumptions when crafting COOP plan enhancements for a pandemic flu: Approximately 40 percent absentee rate at any given time due to:

  • Illness
  • Death
  • Care for sick family members
  • Schools closed and parents must stay home
  • Government imposed social distancing
  • Employees unable to get to work because mass transit systems are affected
  • State health departments may impose quarantine or isolation orders
  • Widespread regional impact/infection
  • Public fear (personnel/vendor/stakeholders)
  • Closing of public facilities, e.g., schools and transportation systems
  • No immediate cure, e.g., vaccine
  • Vaccine is not expected for the first wave of illness for at least 6-12 months
  • Limited supply of anti-viral medications (e.g. Relenza and Tamiflu which must be taken within 48 hours of onset of symptoms or it does not work. It is not a cure or preventative medication, and may be distributed only to first responders, e.g., medical personnel, law enforcement)
  • A pandemic may last 18 or more months and come in several waves
  • The court facility likely is not damaged or inaccessible
  • The first 90-120 days of outbreak may be the most deadly Pandemic preparedness planning should also address the following:
  • Development, implementation, and rehearsal of a telecommute program for the performance of essential functions
  • Deployment of all necessary equipment e.g., laptops, printers, fax, high speed Internet connections, essential functions applications
  • Train, cross-train, and retrain personnel
  • Development and dissemination of human resource policies that: - require sick employees to stay home (self-quarantine) - address admission to the court facility by sick public - address the state’s quarantine and isolation policies - establish compensation policies, e.g., how long non-essential employees will be paid, sick leave, family care leave
  • Expanded vendor list (vendors too will have high absentee rate)
  • Pandemic awareness training and ensure all employees know and understand personnel and response policies
  • Purchase of hand sanitizers, gloves, and face masks and conveniently locate them throughout each facility
  • Train staff to: - Wash hands frequently - Avoid touching their faces - Avoid handshaking - Avoid face-to-face meetings - Stay home if sick - Have a home pandemic plan - Implement enhanced facilities cleaning practices, e.g., door handles, counters, handrails, phones, desk, keyboards.


Revised: April 29, 2009