Granite School District practices reunifying parents, students in school emergency

Oct 6, 2022, 5:37 PM | Updated: 5:52 pm

MAGNA, Utah — It’s a sight we see too often, parents racing to a school to find out whether their child has been hurt in a shooting or some other emergency.

The Granite School District Thursday tested its readiness for those emergency situations with a reunification drill at Matheson Junior High in Magna.

The drill tested the school community, first responders, and parents.

Here’s the scenario: parents were notified to pick up their kids at a reunification center next to the school due to a gas leak at the school. If it were an active shooter situation, they would be notified to go to that same location.

“Our ultimate job is to make sure your child is safe,” said Sergeant Melody Cutler with the Unified Police Department. “That’s what we’re all here for, is to make sure that child is safe.”

It could be a gas leak, an earthquake, or even an active shooter. Once the threat is over, reunification begins at an offsite location, near the school, but away from the emergency.

“The school district has a plan in place so when something like this happens with any kind of emergency they can notify parents,” Cutler said.

The drill gives everyone involved important mental preparation for the school, the parents, and first responders.

“This is the first time that we’ve actually physically done it,” Cutler said. “It’s been a concept that we’ve talked about that we’ve trained tabletop-type exercises. But this is the first time the Unified Police have actually physically done this exercise.”

It was the first reunification drill for the parents too.

“With today’s day and age, the way things work, it’s nice to have a plan like this in place,” Jesse Liddell said after picking up his son.

It’s an especially important practice for a school that needs to evacuate 1,200 students.

“Probably helpful,” said Cheryl Wing, who was there to pick up two students. “I don’t think it would even be this organized in an actual emergency. So, probably better to get something ahead.”

In the event of a real emergency Wing knew not to immediately head for the school.

“Because they would let us know that the school is locked down. So, I would stay away until they tell us it’s time to come get them,” she said.

Even if parents got a text from their student, they are supposed to wait until they are notified to go to the reunification center to reduce chaos. The school and first responders need parents to be patient and calm, as they were today.

“We plan for these things,” Cutler said. “We hope very much that it never happens in our community. But, if it does, we are prepared and we are ready to go in and make sure your children are safe.”

This drill should help the school, parents and first responders evaluate the reunification process and make any necessary changes.

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Granite School District practices reunifying parents, students in school emergency