As a parent, your child’s safety is a top priority no matter where they are or what they are doing. An incredibly important piece of this is safety at school, where your child is likely to spend the majority of their time outside the home. We’re sure that your young one is in great hands with their teachers and school administration team, but there are still some simple steps you can take as a parent to help-out. Part of this is preparing for a controlled student release, which ensures that your child only goes home with yourself, another designated guardian, or an emergency contact that is listed on the release form that you complete each year.
A controlled student release can be activated in numerous scenarios, so preparing for a release is just as important as preparing for an emergency or disaster itself. Luckily, Bernadette Woit, Schools Emergency Management Consultant, has a few things you can do to be ready for a release, and support the school’s emergency plan if it’s ever put into use.
Preparing as a Parent
- Make sure the school has your updated contact information, especially if anything has changed since your child/children started the school year (this includes emergency contacts)
- If you aren’t able to reach the school to pick your child up, notify your emergency contact as soon as possible (make sure you have their information easily accessible)
- Make sure your child/children know who your emergency contacts are. If you aren’t able to pick up your child, it’s important that they know who they are safe to go home with
- Review your child’s medical needs, if applicable. Does the school have medication for your child in the event of a personal emergency, such as an allergic reaction?
- Make sure you know the name of your teacher and ensure that your emergency contact(s) has this information too
Preparing your Kids
- Let them know that their school has an emergency plan in place to ensure student safety following an emergency or disaster
- Educate them on the potential risk of gas leaks, downed power lines, debris, etc., which may make streets impassable and unsafe for them to walk home
- Help them understand the importance of remaining at the school until given instructions by authorized school staff
- Stress how important it is for them to follow the school’s student release procedures
In the Event of a School Release
- Make sure you (or your emergency contact(s)) have photo ID ready to show authorized school personnel upon arrival
- Familiarize yourself with school procedures for a release, so that you know where to pick children up and what to expect throughout the process
- Bring your copy of your release information to help you remember which children you agreed to take home (in the event that you are another parent’s emergency contact) and which other adults you agreed could pick up your child
- Be patient. Students are often released through a formal process which can take time to ensure that it remains controlled and that all children are safe
You might also want to ensure that your children have Comfort Kits, which can help keep them calm in stressful situations, and can also provide useful items should your children have to remain within their school for any length of time.