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GPS families participate in Reunification Exercise

Gilbert Public Schools Safety & Security volunteer reunites two boys with their guardians at Campo Verde High School.

The safety of our students and employees is a top priority for Gilbert Public Schools. As part of our efforts to ensure we are prepared in the event of an emergency, the district recently completed a Reunification Exercise. The process involves safely returning all students to their authorized parents or guardians. 

“We hope that nothing bad ever happens, but we know in the real world they do. I need everybody to know how to respond and how to react. I need them to know their roles and responsibilities,” said Allen Cain, Director of Safety & Security for Gilbert Public Schools. 

The Reunification Exercise took place in late November allowing the district to put into practice safety protocols and procedures. Multiple district departments as well as first responders were involved in the process. It’s important for families to be aware that evacuations of school buildings only occur when the circumstances are deemed unsafe for students and staff to remain at that location.

“I want us to be the best prepared we can possibly be,” Cain said.

As part of a power outage scenario, fourth grade students from Spectrum Elementary were evacuated and transported along with their teachers to Campo Verde High School. More than 60 students, parents, and guardians voluntarily participated in the exercise. 

“It just went smoothly,” said Janet Spomer, a fourth grade teacher at Spectrum, “I think we had a really good look at what was going to happen.”

After students arrived at Campo Verde High School, they were taken into the auditorium where they were kept until their parents or guardians arrived. Teachers remained with and cared for their students until every student was reunited with their families.

“In a real situation, just know that we will always be taking the best possible care of your students. Emergency situations can take time, so please be understanding and know that we have the safety and well-being of everyone in mind,” Cain said.

Two signs direct parents and guardians through the Reunification Exercise at Campo Verde High School.
The reunification process happens in two stages.

  • Requesting your student: Parents and guardians must first complete a Student Release Form at the Request Gate. School Personnel are there to verify that your student is only released to the persons listed on the Student Profile Report. The report is completed at the beginning of every school year and includes authorized emergency contacts. Please note, the person picking up your student(s) must present their photo identification to staff. After the identification is confirmed, you will be given an Authorization Form and directions to the location of the Release Gate on campus, where you will receive your student(s). 
  • Receiving your student: When you reach the Release Gate, please present the Authorization Form and your photo identification to school personnel. Your student(s) will be brought to that location to meet you. 

Families can take steps now to ensure they are prepared in the event of a school emergency. The most critical step is making sure your information is updated on Infinite Campus. This information is used to communicate to families during an emergency situation through emails, text messages, and phone calls. It also helps to identify authorized emergency contacts.

“We don’t want parents and guardians to arrive on site to pick up their child and discover we can’t release that student to them because their information is not updated,” Cain said.

Here are some other points that families need to consider in the event of an emergency:

  • Check the district’s website regularly for alerts. Our website will be updated with the most current information. Please note alerts are removed from the website at 4pm on the day of the event, provided the event is over by that time.
  • Do not call the school or security staff. They are working on the situation and ensuring your student’s safety. 
  • Do not go to the school, because this may interfere with procedures. Only public safety personnel will be allowed in/near the school during an emergency situation. 
  • Please refrain from calling your student. It may prevent him/her from hearing important, possibly life-saving, instructions. 

For the most part, Cain says the process for reunification is the same across grade levels from elementary to high school although there could be some adjustments depending on the circumstances. 

For more information on what you should do in the event of an emergency, visit the district’s Safety & Security page for the latest on safety drills, exercises, and procedures.

Written by Kailey Latham, Photos by Jonason Pauley