The Standard Reunification Method
One critical aspect of crisis response is accountable reunification of students with their parents or guardians in the event of a school crisis or emergency. The Standard Reunification Method provides school and district safety teams with proven methods for planning, practicing and achieving a successful reunification. Keep in mind though, this is an evolving process. While there is a smattering of science in these methods, there is certainly more art. Site-specific considerations will impact how these practices can be integrated into school and district safety plans. Successful planning and implementation also demands partnerships with all responding agencies participating in a crisis response.
Crisis recovery starts with the crisis, not after. Without a plan to reunite students and parents, more than just the mental health demands which accompany a crisis are ignored; the responsibility of the school and district in maintaining the chain of custody for every student can be lost. No school is immune to emergencies; fires, floods, tornadoes, blizzards, power outages, bomb threats, acts of violence... this is just a short list of events that could initiate a release and reunification for a school or district.
A predetermined, practiced reunification method ensures the reunification process will not further complicate what is probably already a chaotic, anxiety-filled scene. In fact, putting an orderly reunification plan into action will help defuse the emotion building at the site.
What Does it Cost?
Implementing The Standard Reunification Method concepts and planning stages take a certain amount of time. But in the grand scheme of school safety the level of effort is modest. There will be some staff hours committed to the both the planning and practicing of these concepts. There will be some cost in printing and in creating the "Go Kits" necessary for a successful reunification. Since some of these items are happening at the district level, the cost of a $300 "go kit" can be spread among all of the schools in the district. Shift the question. "What is the liability cost of not having a reunification plan?" In many instances, the cost of liability insurance for the school or district is affected by the level of response preparedness.