The K-12 Standard Reunification Method (SRM) V2 Toolkit offers guidance and resources for incorporating the Standard Reunification Method into a school safety plan, to help with managing student/parent reunification after a crisis.
“Recovery starts when the crisis begins.”
In 2012, The “I Love U Guys” Foundation introduced the Standard Reunification Method. At the time, we saw a void in school safety planning regarding student/parent reunification after a crisis. We were certain this was a true need, but few schools or districts actually had reunification plans and practices in place. Fewer still had actually drilled or practiced.
Was it truly a need? The answer lies in the widespread adoption of the SRM. Since 2012, thousands of schools in the US and Canada have implemented the Standard Reunification Method as a means to safely reunite students and families after a crisis.
Recovery starts when the crisis begins. Reunification is the first step in that recovery.
This is Version 2.0 of the Standard Reunification Method. But notice, we use the word 'method'. Not protocol. Not procedure. Method.
What that means is that we provide you with some tactics. Things we know. But the event, your reunification site, your environment, will ultimately dictate what you do.
Please, in your planning, if you see something here that doesn’t seem to work in your environment, we encorage you to figure out what does.
The SRM Toolkit "Texas Edition" was created in conjuntion with The I Love U Guys Foundation with the intent of incorporating Texas specific guidance and mandates into these processes and materials.
The nation has experienced high profile acts of school violence. In response to this and the everyday types of crisis, The "I Love U Guys" Foundation develops programs to help districts, departments and agencies respond to incidents.
One critical aspect of crisis response is accountable reunification of students with their parents or guardians in the event a controlled release is necessary. The Standard Reunification Method provides school and district safety teams 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 will also demand partnerships with all responding agencies participating in a crisis response.
Crisis recovery starts with the crisis, not after. Simply "winging it" when reuniting ignores not only the mental health demands that accompany a crisis, but the responsibility of the school and the district to maintain the chain of custody for every student.
No school is immune to stuff hitting the proverbial fan. Wildland or structural fires, hazardous materials, floods, tornados, blizzards, power outages, tsunamis, bomb threats, acts of violence, acts of terror... these just start the list of events that may necessitate a controlled reunification and release 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 emotion escalating at the site.
There is a hidden side effect of implementing the Standard Reunification Method. Going through the planning and training process may help strengthen district relationships with first responders. Often law enforcement is very active in partnering with schools and districts. Less often is the fire department. The SRM may be a vector into strengthening relationships with fire agencies as well.
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 planning, training and practice of these concepts. There will be some cost in printing and in creating the "go kits" necessary for a successful reunification. Since some of this activity is happening at the district level, the cost of "go kits" can be spread among all of the schools in the district.
Adams 12, Five Star Schools Method
The core concept of the Adams 12 Reunification Method rests on accountability achieved through a process based on managing the physical location of students, staff and of incoming parents. The process also uses perforated cards. These cards are completed by parents or guardians at the reunification site. The cards are separated at the perforation, and a reunifier retrieves the child.
The methods detailed in the first version of the Standard Reunification Method are based on the practices developed at the Adams 12, Five Star School District, Thornton, Colorado, by Pat Hamilton, Executive Director of Operations, and also at Jefferson County School District, Golden, Colorado, by John McDonald, Executive Director of Security and Emergency Planning.
Since its introduction in 2012, other districts and agencies have also contributed.
The Job Action Sheets in this book were inspired by the work of Michelle Brady, Emergency Planning Coordinator, Hillsboro School District, Hillsboro, Oregon.
Other aspects of the Job Action Sheets in this book were inspired by the work of Kevin Sutherland, Emergency Planning Coordinator, Beaverton School District, Beaverton, Oregon.
Other materials were sourced from the phenomenal work of Will Schwall, Emergency Manager, Hays County Sheriff's Office, San Marcos, Texas.
The objective of this manual is to help districts develop, train and mobilize a district reunification team, and implement tangible, on-site and off-site reunification plans. Inherent in this objective is creating or strengthening partnerships with first responder agencies – police, fire and medical. By having district and school personnel build a well designed draft plan, it becomes easier to engage the first responders and other key participants in the planning process. During this process, a core philosophy is essential:
“Cops own the crime.
Fire owns the flames.
Paramedics own the patient.
Schools own the kids.”
Additionally, performing a successful reunification is much more likely when drills are conducted in advance of an incident. Tabletop exercises and live exercises should be scheduled and performed.
SRM Guide for K-12
This Toolkit was created based on the Standard Reunification Method K12 Guide created by The "I Love U Guys" Foundation. If you would like to download, view, or print this guide in full please click the button below.
The "I Love U Guys" Foundation also provides the ability to order the K12 guides as professionally printed and binded educational materials through Amazon CreateSpace for a cost. If you perfer to order these printed materials please click the button below to link to the store.