Emergency management planning is very important because many incidents, whether caused by hazards or threats, are unpredictable. When unpredictable incidents occur, they may prevent a normal school dismissal, thereby making it difficult for families to reunite with students. A Family Reunification Annex can be created as a part of a school emergency operations plan (EOP) in order to detail actions to take before, during, and after an emergency to ensure students are reunited with their families. There are many aspects to consider when creating a Family Reunification Annex, including communications; logistics; student security and release; and children who are missing, injured, or worse. Once completed, the annex should provide details on how to inform families about the reunification process in advance; clearly describe roles and responsibilities in reunification; verify that an adult is authorized to take custody of a student; and facilitate communication between the family check-in gate, student assembly area, and reunification area. Maximizing the strength of an education agency’s plans for family reunification is an important part of the work that emergency management teams do at the K-12 level.
Resources from the REMS TA Center, U.S. Department of Education, and federal agency partners on the topic of family reunification for K-12 schools. They are organized based on the before, during, and after phases used to comprehensively manage emergencies.