Fayette schools practice for what happens after a crisis

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Parent Rebecca Norton (2nd from left, in white blouse) goes through a second identification check point before reunification with her child. Assisting with the check are (L-R) Renee Hammer, human resources assistant director; Norton; Deb Troutman, mathematics coordinator; and Jennifer Battles, certification officer in human resources. Photo/Fayette County School System.
Parent Rebecca Norton (2nd from left, in white blouse) goes through a second identification check point before reunification with her child. Assisting with the check are (L-R) Renee Hammer, human resources assistant director; Norton; Deb Troutman, mathematics coordinator; and Jennifer Battles, certification officer in human resources. Photo/Fayette County School System.

Booth Middle School hosts second parent/student reunification drill — 

Everyone hopes that a disaster or crisis situation will never happen at a Fayette County Public School, but just hoping will not prepare students and staff for a situation that warrants an off-site student evacuation and parent reunification.

This is why the school system has started conducting annual parent/student reunification drills.

The school system’s safety coordinator, Dr. Ted Lombard, organized the first reunification drill last year with students and parents from Crabapple Lane Elementary.

This year, the drill involved over 100 students and about seven parents from J.C. Booth Middle School on Peachtree Parkway South in Peachtree City.

The First Baptist Church, on Willowbend Drive near City Hall in Peachtree City, served as the reunification site for the small-scale exercise, with the main focus being an opportunity for staff to practice the procedure and for officials to evaluate its effectiveness.

As part of the school system’s emergency response plan, staff at each school and the central office are assigned different positions and responsibilities to ensure the process runs smoothly.

The exercise confirmed strengths of the plan and highlighted areas for improvement while giving staff the chance to use the equipment and forms required during an actual emergency.

Staff also practiced handling possible scenarios that might occur such as panicked parents and sick or missing students.

A debriefing was held immediately following the exercise where both successes and challenges of the plan were discussed and possible solutions explored.

A number of people were involved in assisting with the reunification drill including personnel from the Peachtree City Police Department, Peachtree City Emergency Services, Fayette County Emergency Services, the school system’s school nutrition and transportation departments, school counselors and nurses, and county office staff and administrators.

Lombard said he was very pleased with the drill, and that he received some highly constructive feedback that will help the school system improve the plan.

“Overall, I think the drill was very successful. We didn’t stress the system, but did work through the system, and I think it went very well,” Lombard says.

Fayette County Public Schools is one of a few school systems in Georgia that conducts reunification drills. — Story provided by the Fayette County School System.

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