2. A written family or parent reunification plan for emergency notification and reunification of students with parents.
Now let’s examine the second critical component referred to in the Save the Children report card – a family or parent reunification plan. In the aftermath of a significant crisis event such as a shooting, tornado, chemical spill, fire, or other traumatic event, the school must ensure the timely reunification of parents with their children. While this sounds simple enough, this task must be done in the harshest of conditions – during a chaotic, emotional, stressful situation with which few people have any familiarity. Oh, and did I mention that this will most likely be occurring under the microscope of media attention? The process of reuniting hundreds of scared, emotional students with their equally hysterical parents is not something that can be done “on the fly”. It requires methodical, strategic logistical planning and practice done well in advance.
The critical considerations of parent reunification are to ensure that all students are accounted for and that they are returned to their custodial parent or guardian in the most efficient manner possible. Not preparing in advance for this difficult task ignores the school’s legal and ethical responsibilities for (1) accountability of students, (2) addressing post-event mental health concerns, and (3) maintaining the chain of custody.
Still don’t think that parent reunification should be a priority? Alissa Parker, parent of a Sandy Hook Elementary student sees it differently: "One of the most stressful things that day was reunification. We were told by three different people to look for our daughter at three different places. The chaos made it so much worse for us all."
The good news is that developing and implementing a parent reunification plan is not an insurmountable task. It simply takes time and attention. The better news is that thanks to the I Luv U Guys foundation, almost everything you need is available in a free download. Go to http://iluvuguys.org/srm.html and get started - today.