Everett Schools Practice Reuniting Kids and Parents After Disaster

October 1, 2015

Everett, Everett Schools

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Students are kept together in the stands at Everett Memorial Stadium. Photo: MyEverettNews.com

Parents must show identification and go through a two-step process before being reunited with their child. Photo credit: Everett Public Schools

Parents must show identification and go through a two-step process before being reunited with their child. Photo credit: Everett Public Schools

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Billy McKinney was one of the Lowell Elementary students participating. Photo: MyEverettNews.com

There can be any number of reasons that Everett schools would have to be evacuated and kids taken off campus to reunite with their parents.

The most obvious is a school shooting scenario but there also could be natural or man-made disaster.

According to the Everett School District there are three types of student dismissal:

Daily Release: the daily school procedure to let students free at dismissal time.

Controlled Release: usually at a different time than the daily release. Often weather-related, closing school early, a hazmat incident or chemistry class gone awry. Students dismissed at an unusual time, not a traumatic event.

Reunification: events in the school or neighborhood that demand students are physically returned to parents. Often at a different site than the school. The event is likely of a criminal or traumatic nature.

Today the Everett School District held a reunification drill where 150 fourth and fifth graders, school staff, volunteers and parents worked with Everett School District authorities and City of Everett Emergency Managers plus the Everett Police Department to simulate the reunification process.

The district says the purpose of today’s drill was to test the draft reunification procedure with students and staff and identify areas for improvement and revision. It was the first time such a drill has been held in the Everett School District.

Students from Lowell Elementary along with their teachers and staff were put on the bus and taken to Everett Memorial Stadium. Parent volunteers then came to pick up their children. Both groups were kept apart until one-by-one parents could be positively identified with their child.

One of the goals was to try and minimize stress for both the students and parents. Instead of shouting out names on bullhorns, white boards were used to convey information. There were also interpreters in several languages available for students, parents and staff.

One of the participants, Billy McKinney told MyEverettNews.com he enjoyed the drill. “I had a fun experience,” said McKinney. “I’ve always felt safe at school and this makes me feel even safer.”

Everett Memorial Stadium is serving as the main reunification site for the Everett School District but each school also has a backup location closer to its neighborhood. The District will now take what it learned today and solidify its reunification plan and begin communicating the plan to parents at all Everett schools.

While that process is under way, here is a link to a great video explaining how to best use social media during an emergency at the school. It takes a couple of minutes to download but is worth the wait. Lots of great information!


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About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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