At both their February and March professional development days, the Ada School staff trained and practiced the evacuation and reunification procedures that have recently been updated as part of the district’s comprehensive emergency operations procedures. That new plan was submitted to the Ohio Department of Education and deemed compliant to their standards and rubric. Here are the things parents most need to know should the district be forced to evacuate and reunify you with your children from another location. Please take the time to read this, and make adjustments and communicate with your children and caregivers accordingly. The items in bold indicate steps you can take to prepare for the possibility of reunification from an alternate site in advance of emergency.
In the event of an emergency, the leaders and staff of this district have a singular, initial goal – make sure everyone is safe. As there are only a handful of administrators in the district, focusing on this goal in the early minutes of a crisis takes “all hands on deck” to attend to details related to the incident. In the age of social media, that means that parents may begin to hear about a situation before the district is able to send an official statement regarding the incident. Please know that any delay is only because our limited resources are focused on stabilizing a situation before we can send information.
In the event of a crisis, the district will utilize a variety of means to communicate with families. The first of those is the Ohio Alerts text messaging system. It is critical to get set up with these alerts and to keep your information up to date, so that you will get an alert to a situation. Characters are limited in those alert texts, so if more explanation is needed, it will be posted to the school district web page, and a link to that page will most likely be included in the text. The message will also post to our school Facebook and Twitter accounts, so please follow us there if you are subscribed to one or the other or both. This is our most instantaneous way to get information to a large group.
If the school is evacuated, you will get information about that, after all children have been evacuated. We wait so that we don’t alert the wrong person to your children being on the move or where they are going. This is for their protection. Once we have them at the evacuation site, and have proper security set up, you will then be notified. If the students will be reunified with parents from the evacuation site, you will also be given information as to where to go. All students will be required to go to the reunification site and all will be reunified through the reunification process/procedure. This applies to even students who walk, who are bused, or who drive to school. It is possible that there will be limited access to school grounds, depending on the situation, so the district and local first responders will work to get you information as to when students who drove will be able to retrieve their vehicles after the incident is cleared.
In the event of the need for reunification from an alternate site, we are committed to keeping track of where every child goes and with whom. Please understand, then, that this can take some time. We will have to see identification from each person who picks up a child, and verify that they are listed on the child’s emergency medical form (thus important to get forms filled out on Final Forms, and update those forms any time you have a change in who you will allow to pick up your children). Obviously, with more than 800 children it will take time to reunify each child with an approved person. A colleague from another similar sized district has experienced this, and it took several hours to reunify students and parents. Parent and pick up people will be expected to respect the process and be patient. Having the adults around stay calm will help our students stay calm. We will notify you as to whether bus routes will run as usual, be delayed, or if all children will need picked up at the reunification site. It would be our goal to have buses run bus riders as typical, but some circumstances may not allow us access to our buses, so we will include specifics in our information released at that time.
While we hope we never have to utilize this plan, we hope giving it to you to review during a time of calm will help allay your anxiety should we have to enact it. We will post this to our website, as well, so you can review it at any time. It would be helpful to let anyone on your child’s approved pick up list see and read this plan, so they know what to expect if they have to pick up your child at a reunification site.