Most of the schools that we assess here at Invictus Consulting have a solid and detailed plan for emergencies and crises. With that said, many emergency plans do not account for reunification of parents and students if there is a need to evacuate the campus. We regularly find that schools specify a reunification location but no reunification procedure. A reunification plan is a plan that contains details on the specific orchestration for administrators, teachers, staff, and students as they arrive at the reunification area.
One critical aspect of any Crisis Action Plan is accountable reunification of students with their parents or guardians in the event of a school crisis or emergency. A pre-determined, practiced reunification method ensures that the reunification process will not further complicate what is probably an already chaotic, anxiety-filled scene.
Remember that a reunification plan is a plan not a place. A proper reunification plan can be executed at any location. In brief, the reunification process should include:
- Establishing a Student Staging Area
- Establishing a Parent Check-In Area
- Delivering students to the staging area, beyond the field of vision of parents/guardians
- Directing parents and guardians to the Parent Check-In Area and helping them understand the process
- Having parents and guardians sign Reunification Cards
- Having runners recover students from the Student Staging Area
- Establishing controlled lines of sight allow to communication and other issues to be handled more easily
- Anticipating medical or investigative contingencies
- Integration with first responder personnel
A reunification plan should be created by security professionals or your school’s security management team and be reviewed and practiced on a regular annual basis. Online training by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for an Introduction to Incident Management for Schools will help school personnel understand the basics of an Incident Command System, which is a standardized, on-scene, all-hazards incident management approach. This course is three hours and can be taken at the following website: https://emilms.fema.gov/IS100SCA/index.htm.