A Parent's Guide to School Safety Toolkit
2.6 Standard Reunification Method (SRM)
The Standard Reunification Method (SRM) is a process used in certain situations, for example, when severe weather, hazardous material (hazmat) spill, power outage, or an active threat causes the need for students to be picked up in a different location, or different way than on a typical day. The SRM was developed by the “I Love U Guys” Foundation, to fill the need for a safe, orderly, and accountable way for parents and guardians to be reunified with their children in a school emergency or school closing. Accountable reunification of children with their families is a top priority, both for parents and for schools.
Depending on the emergency or crisis, the reunification site may be near the school campus, or it may be at a location further from the school to ensure the safety of the students. For example, in an active threat, such as an active shooter or bomb threat, the reunification site may be down the road from the school, such as a fire station, community center, or church. In the case of widespread flooding, the reunification site may be on the other side of the city.
As emergency evacuations can happen without warning, school districts and open-enrollment charter schools are encouraged to plan and train for how to reunify students with their parents. Materials are provided free of charge on the “I Love U Guys” Foundation’s website, and training on the SRP and SRM is provided free of charge to school district and open-enrollment charter school staff through the Texas School Safety Center, in conjunction with the “I Love U Guys” Foundation.
How will I be notified, and how will I know where my child is?
You will be notified of the need for reunification and the location of the reunification site through several methods of communication, including text message, email, or phone call. Please avoid attempting to contact the school, as the communication systems will likely be overwhelmed, and it will be difficult for you to get through. Likewise, do not go to the school unless you are specifically directed to do so. Going to the school can slow down first responders or other personnel and complicate an already complex situation. This may also lead to you feeling increased stress. Schools will provide updates and directions as they are available. Stay close to your phone and email and monitor local television and radio reports for updates and instructions.
If you are notified of the need for reunification, you will be told the location to go to, where to park, the designated area to wait, and the required forms to fill out which aid in reunification. The most important thing to remember is to bring your photo identification card to the reunification site when you go to pick up your child.
Although family friends or parents of other students may offer to take your child home, school staff are not allowed to release your child to them. Schools are not allowed to release students to people not listed on the student emergency card. The student emergency card should also have important information regarding your child’s allergies, medications, and medical doctor’s name and contact information. As reunification can take several hours, food or medication may need to be provided to your child. Knowing any allergies and medication your child needs allows schools to better protect and care for your child until reunification takes place. Know that the safety and well-being of your child is the top priority of the reunification team.
See 2.7 Parent (or Guardian) Notification for more information regarding parent notification.
Should I call or text my child to see if they are alright?
During an active threat, your child’s phone needs to be silenced. Calling or texting your child during an active threat can put them and others in danger. If your child has not silenced their phone and it is ringing, or a text notification comes through, it could place them in further danger. The light from cellphones while texting or receiving a call can also give away a student’s location to the attacker. Having patience during an active threat situation is difficult, but the need for safety is crucial.
Most active threats are over within five minutes. Some school districts may ask parents and students to refrain from contacting one another for the first five minutes of a perceived threat or crisis. This delayed contact time gives school district administrators and first responders a few minutes in which to gather accurate information. Rumors spread quickly and escalate in intensity; dispelling rumors and false reports can be a challenge that creates more complications for those responding to the emergency. In addition to the information being incorrect, it leads to increased anxiety and fear for everyone involved. To mitigate this, it is best practice to avoid speaking with the media during such events.
What if my child is injured?
If your child is evacuated from the school, and requires reunification, the school will notify you of the reunification site. While this is such a scary thing to even think about, the best thing to do is to go to that reunification site, unless you are notified otherwise by the school, first responders, or the hospital. If your child is injured, you will be directed to the proper personnel at the reunification site who will inform you of your child's status and location.
Should I call the school to check for information?
The school will want to get information out to you as urgently and quickly as you want it. School administrators will be very busy, even after the active threat has stopped. There are many other things going on, in addition to coordinating students to a safe reunification site. The school will notify you through previously set up communication channels to keep you updated on the situation. As stated before, patience is important.
What Should My Child Know?
Talk to your child about the purpose of drills. Using age and developmentally appropriate language, explain that teachers, administrators, police, EMS, and a vast number of other adults have planned for and trained on what to do to ensure their safety. These arrangements are practiced with the drills that schools conduct, and your child’s attention and cooperation is very important during these drills. The better your child understands and participates, the better the outcome will be if a real event occurs.
Stress the importance of active listening during instructions and following any directives given without hesitation.
If the need arises for you to pick them up in a different location, as in the case of an active threat, these arrangements are practiced with the drills that the schools conduct, and your child’s attention and cooperation is very important.
Talk with your child about the reunification process, and that your child will not be able to go home with a peer or friend.
Regarding general safety, it is important to speak with your child about the importance of not getting in a car or leaving with anyone other than you or the people you have designated. Reinforce that no one except those people can pick them up. If you have situations in which you may need someone else to pick up your child, you may teach your child a code word or phrase that they are not to share with anyone. Your child will know that you sent that person to pick them up if that person can tell them the code word or phrase.
- The “I Love U Guys” Foundation