SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – The Utah State Board of Education Thursday said it would not require schools to implement drills for parent-child reunification in case of an emergency, but it would like schools to have a plan in place.
Currently, some schools already do parent-child reunification drills of their own accord, but it is not mandated by the state. Parents who participate show up at the school their child attends for a mock emergency practice run, where they learn where their child is to be picked up in case of an incident.
There was rigorous debate on whether to require drills Thursday. Board member Linda Hansen originally proposed the idea of having drills involving parents, but some members expressed concern that would constitute state overreach.
Instead, school districts would be required to publish a specific parent-child reunification plan on their website and distribute that plan during registration beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.
Hansen said she was fine with that compromise as long as parents are always informed about where their children are to be picked up.
“Parents should know how they’re going to be notified, what the expectations are,” said Hansen, “so they should have some kind of idea about what’s going to happen.”
Parents typically are not involved in emergency drills at school, but occasionally some districts will ask them to participate.
The ultimate goal on everyone’s minds, Hansen said, is student safety.
Parents will not see a specified parent-child reunification plan published at the beginning of this upcoming school year, but schools will be required to implement one with the help of local emergency management authorities beginning in 2019.