School System Conducts Second Parent/Student Reunification Drill
Everyone hopes that a disaster or crisis situation will never happen at a Fayette County Public School, but just hoping will not prepare students and staff for a situation that warrants an off-site student evacuation and parent reunification.
This is why the school system has started conducting annual parent/student reunification drills. The school system’s safety coordinator Dr. Ted Lombard organized the first reunification drill last year with students and parents from Crabapple Lane Elementary. This year, the drill involved over 100 students and about seven parents from J.C. Booth Middle.
The First Baptist Church, Peachtree City served as the reunification site for the small-scale exercise, with the main focus being an opportunity for staff to practice the procedure and for officials to evaluate its effectiveness. As part of the school system’s emergency response plan, staff at each school and the central office are assigned different positions and responsibilities to ensure the process runs smoothly.
The exercise confirmed strengths of the plan and highlighted areas for improvement while giving staff the chance to use the equipment and forms required during an actual emergency. Staff also practiced handling possible scenarios that might occur such as panicked parents and sick or missing students.
A debriefing was held immediately following the exercise where both successes and challenges of the plan were discussed and possible solutions explored.
A number of people were involved in assisting with the reunification drill including personnel from the Peachtree City Police Department, Peachtree City Emergency Services, Fayette County Emergency Services, the school system’s school nutrition and transportation departments, school counselors and nurses, and county office staff and administrators.
Lombard said he was very pleased with the drill, and that he received some highly constructive feedback that will help the school system improve the plan.
“Overall, I think the drill was very successful. We didn’t stress the system, but did work through the system, and I think it went very well,” Lombard says.
Fayette County Public Schools is one of a few school systems in Georgia that conducts reunification drills.