Parents' Role During Emergencies
Providing a safe place for students to learn and grow is one of the most important responsibilities of any school system. Along with school officials, teachers and staff, your family plays a critical role in preventing and responding to school emergencies. The information in this document is intended to provide parents and guardians with the steps you can take before, during and after an emergency. It is the ABC’s of the parent’s role during emergencies.
Before an Emergency
Prevention: Parents and community members play an important role in keeping our schools safe. You can be our eyes and ears by reporting any issues, concerns, or rumors related to safety to school or law enforcement officials. Here are two hot line numbers that are answered 24/7:
- Iowa Health Systems – (515) 244-1000
- Mercy Franklin Center – (515) 271-6111
You can also help by following and supporting all security measures when you visit one of our school buildings. This includes signing in and out at the school office and wearing a visitor’s badge at all times while in the building.
Emergency Contacts on Record with the School District: Please regularly update emergency and contact telephone numbers and information with your school to ensure you receive information and updates during emergency situations. The parent emergency notification system will use the contact information on record in Infinite Campus to contact you in the event of an emergency. It is also important to update information on who can legally pick-up a child. In the event of an emergency, only custodial parents, legal guardians and those people listed as emergency contacts are allowed to pick up students at a parent re-unification center.
Medications: If your child is on medication, be sure the school has at least a two-day supply.
Plan: Create your own family emergency plan. Develop a family communication plan and have a supply kit to sustain you and your family for two to three days. For tips on how to prepare a plan go to www.bereadyiowa.org.
During an Emergency
In a school emergency, the first instinct of many parents is to pick up the telephone and call their child or school and/or rush to the school to get their children. The truth is, this only complicates matters from a safety and security standpoint. Parents too close to an incident often hinder the rescue attempts of the police and fire officials on the scene. Calling your child’s cell phone may prevent them from hearing important, even life-saving information. Students will be able to use cell phones if they need immediate assistance and once they are safe.
The best action parents can take in an emergency is to stay close to their phone and e-mail and to monitor local radio and TV reports for regular updates and instructions.
- Do not report to your child’s school during emergency situations. Law enforcement officials will not allow entry to the school site during a lockdown or shelter-in-place.
- Avoid calling the school or the district offices during the emergency.
Notification and Communication: The school district is committed to providing parents and guardians with the latest and most accurate information available. In most cases the district will post information on the district website. In some forms of emergency, the district may also send automated phone and e-mail messages and use news media outlets to distribute information.
Parents should monitor official emergency information updates using the district’s website, automated call system, and local media. In today’s world, students will be texting and calling parents immediately. Be aware that information you receive from your child may not always be accurate as they may only have a portion of the information; ensure the information you are using is official and comes directly from the Ankeny School District.
- Emergency notification system: The automated calling/e-mail system used by the school district can store a primary home phone and e-mail address, as well as up to four additional phone numbers per parent and one additional e-mail address per parent. To learn more and read frequently asked questions about the system, click here.
School Emergency Response Protocols: A school crisis can take a number of forms including an environmental event, such as a chemical spill or gas leak; a weather emergency, such as a tornado warning; or an intruder in or near the school. The nature of a school crisis dictates whether school officials will put in place a lockdown, shelter-in-place, evacuation, or any combination of two of these protocols, as a means to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff.
When and Why are Students and Staff Asked to Lockdown, Shelter-in-Place or Evacuate?
- Lockdown: A lockdown is normally in effect when there is a threat inside the school. Students and staff are removed from harms way by having them safely located inside secure classrooms or other areas inside the school to reduce the risk of being exposed to the source of potential harm. During lockdowns access to the building is prohibited.
- Shelter-in-Place: Shelter-in-place is instituted when the threat is outside the school. Students and staff are secured inside a classroom or other areas inside the school reducing the risk for exposure to inclement weather or other potential harm such as a gas release.
- Evacuations: Evacuations are typically conducted to remove students and staff from harms way by having them safely vacate the school and reassemble in a more secure location.
If the school building is evacuated, how will I be able to locate my child? - Parents will be directed to a specific location where they will be required to show valid identification. At the reunification site, school administrators, police and fire officials account for students and provide aide to those who need it immediately. Students are released only to authorized individuals. If you are a non-custodial parent, you must be listed with your student’s emergency contact information as a guardian and show proper identification.
- The reunification process involves several deliberate steps to help ensure the safety of students. In some cases, the process may not be as rapid as many would prefer. As difficult as it may be, however, it is imperative that parents remain calm and patient during this process to help it progress as quickly and efficiently as possible.
After an Emergency
Observation: Monitor you child’s behavior and let the school know if you think counseling or help is needed. Following a school crisis, specially trained school and district crisis team members and social workers are available to provide counseling and outside referrals to students, staff members, and others who may need it.
Recovery plans: Depending on the nature and amount of damage, school maybe moved to a different location. The district will inform parents of any changes.