NORFOLK – Students, parents and staff from the Lincoln Montessori Elementary School in Norfolk held their first reunification drill, meant to practice and prepare for an emergency.
More than 200 students were evacuated from the school around 1:30 Wednesday afternoon and walked across the street to First United Methodist Church.
In the event of an emergency, a parent reunification would take place when a school is determined to not be safe place to return to after an evacuation.
About half of the students, with permission from their parents, remained at the church and participated in the parent reunification led by the NPS staff.
Principal Troy Berryman says it’s a great learning experience for everyone involved and the only thing left was to actually hold the drill.
“The only thing that we were missing was the actual practice. We can talk about things and talk about things, but until we get the kids and the parents involved we don’t know maybe some of the gaps that we might need to fill. From what I’ve seen here today, it’s gone very, very well.” Berryman says.
Director of Human Resources for NPS Mike Hart says the main goal was to quickly and accurately match the kids with their parents or guardians.
“The idea is that we want to accurately make sure and verify the students we have and we want to make sure that we get the correct parent, or friend, or guardian, or whatever back with the correct student. Now sometimes that will take a little bit time. So that’s why we did it with a limited number of kids today, because we just kind of see want we need to improve on.” Hart says
Hart says that the kids did a very good job of following directions during the drill.
“But as they were coming across the street, they were lined up, they were quiet, they were listening to their teachers when they got downstairs. Mr. Berryman sort of gave a brief about what was going on. They listened very intently to what was going on, the teachers knew what was going on and the kids did a phenomenal job.” Hart says.
Berryman also says that from what he has seen, most parents have been appreciative of the work the schools are doing to keep their children safe.
“As I met with the parents as they exited today, they were all smiling and happy that we are taking these steps to ensure the kids are safe. They are also hoping that we never have to do this for real. But, I think they should feel pretty good if we do have a tragedy or an emergency that the kids and parents know what’s going to happen.” Berryman says.
Around 70 students who waited at the church were picked up safely by parents or guardians quickly, with school staff ending the event at around 2:15.
At the end of the day, both Hart and Berryman say the drill was a success.