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Emergency Preparedness and Parent-Student Reunification for Schools: Why You Need To Have a Plan and How Ident-A-Kid Visitor Management Can Help

During an emergency, your school can use the Ident-A-Kid Visitor Management System to record parent information for Parent-Student Reunification

 

In our world today, it is more important than ever that we plan and prepare for any emergency. Over the past decade states across the country have taken action to improve the safety procedures and standards of their schools. A big focus for many of these improvements has been emergency preparedness and response. Whether your school experiences a natural disaster, threats, acts of violence or any other emergency, having a plan in place can save you valuable time, will reduce stress and anxiety, and help begin the recovery process.

 

We’re going to share with you why you need to have a parent-student reunification plan, how the reunification process works and how Ident-A-Kid Visitor Management can help. Our system inherently provides reunification for free, but it will need to be set up.

 

Why You Need To Have a Reunification Plan for Your School

 

Teachers and administrators in an emergency preparedness meeting discussing parent-student reunification

The safety and well-being of students is one of the primary focuses of any school and is the backbone of Ident-A-Kid and our products. This not only means preventing traumatic emergencies but also being able to properly respond to them. Parent-student reunification is an important part of this.

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, being able to successfully and safely reunite students with their caregivers and reestablishing social support is often the only mental health intervention needed after a traumatic event. The sooner you’re able to do this the better. If you’re able to quickly reunite students with their caregivers then your students are less likely to exhibit traumatic stress.

Parents and caregivers will be anxious and want to be reunited with their child as soon as possible. Being prepared with a plan of action, and effectively communicating with parents and caregivers will show them you take the safety of their students seriously and help ease some tension. 

Next, we’ll cover the steps you need to take to develop a plan that will fit your school.

How Parent-Student Reunification Works

A Greeter using Ident-A-Kid Visitor Management on a tablet to collect parent and caregiver information during the reunification process

There is a lot of planning and practice that is involved in successfully implementing parent-student reunification. Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch. There are resources available for you to use throughout the planning process. One that we highly recommend you familiarize yourself with is The Standard Reunification Method V2 (SRM V2) provided by The “I Love U Guys” Foundation.

The "I Love U Guys" Foundation logo

Another valuable resource is the NEA’s School Crisis Guide. In addition to tips and guidance for a successful reunification process, their guide covers crisis prevention techniques, emergency response techniques over different time frames and long-term mental health needs for recovery.

We’re going to cover the reunification process using information from the “I Love U Guys” Foundation Standard Reunification Method V2.

Step 1: Establish the parent check-in location

This is where parents and caregivers will arrive to pick-up their student(s). While waiting, your staff will be able to explain how the reunification process will work, manage expectations and start gathering important information.

The check-in location should have a table for you to set up your materials on and perhaps a pop-up tent to make it easily visible.

Step 2: Students arrive at the staging area

The evacuated students will be assembled in a staging area with teachers and other staff members that will help take attendance and verify student rosters. Organizing students in lines based on the first initial of their last name will help with the flow during reunification.

The “I Love U Guys” Foundation recommends that when transporting students to the staging area you keep them out of sight from parents and caregivers that may have already arrived. If parents and caregivers are able to see their student(s), they may be tempted to not follow the procedures your team has in place or become more anxious. 

Likewise, students should not be waiting in an area where they can see their parents for the same reasons previously mentioned.

Step 3: Notify parents and caregivers of the location of students

Using your school’s mass notification system, communicate to parents where you have evacuated students to. Instruct them to arrive at the parent check-in location to begin reunification.

Step 4: As parents and caregivers arrive, greeters direct parents to correct location and explain the reunification process

As parents and caregivers arrive, your Greeters will direct parents to the correct location for check-in and explain the reunification process. 

To help with the flow of traffic, it is recommended that you create multiple check-in lines for parents based on the first initial of the last name. It will be key to have multiple Ident-A-Kid stations, whether they be set up on laptops, tablets, or mobile devices. Since Ident-A-Kid is a web browser application, any device with a current web browser will work for this process.

Step 5: Parents/guardians provide information for reunification

During this step, parents will be checking-in and providing their information for you to verify before running their student(s) to them.

You can use your Ident-A-Kid Visitor Management System to help save time and record accurate information. 

We’d recommend that you create a dedicated “Reunification” button. This button should only be enabled for admin mode of your check in stations, that way it can be restricted for emergencies only. 

To begin, parents and caregivers will need to provide your Greeters their ID. Administrators/Staff can scan the parent/caregiver ID, or search for their name in the parent contact list, which would then display students they are approved to pick up. Ident-A-Kid Visitor Management can pull parent and student lists from your School Information System to help you maintain current and accurate information. The NoGo list should be used in addition to the approved parents list for custody restrictions.

All the members of your team that need access to the Ident-A-Kid Visitor Management System during this process can use any mobile device with internet connection.

Step 6: Reunifier recovers students and delivers to the parent

Your Reunifiers use the approved list to retrieve the students and bring them to their parent or caregiver. It is recommended the Reunifier also asks the student if they are comfortable leaving with that adult.

Additional information can be collected at this time if needed. A signature is optionally captured and the release time is recorded. This process follows and assists the “I Love U Guys” Foundation Standard Response Protocol (SRP) for reunification. This feature is an inherent function of the software at no extra cost.

Preparing Your Ident-A-Kid System for Reunification

If you have any questions on how you can prepare your Ident-A-Kid System for the reunification process, please do not hesitate to contact our support team. They’ll be able to walk you through the steps and test your system to make sure everything works correctly.

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