PRINCETON — School preparedness means more than just getting new school supplies and clothes, according to Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) director Jonathon Monken.
With the month of August designated as School Preparedness Month, Monken is encouraging parents to include emergency preparedness in those back-to-school plans.
“For many parents, back-to-school planning usually means picking up notebooks, pencils, crayons and other school supplies,” Monken said. “But the new school year is also a good time to make sure you know your school’s plans for keeping kids safe during an emergency and for providing your current emergency contact information to school office.”
Bureau County ESDA coordinator Kris Donarski encouraged parents to contact their schools to see what emergency plans are in place, so they know the procedures if some type of emergency would occur. Parents can also talk with school staff about their recommendations on conversations parents should have with their children about emergencies. Parents don’t want to have conversations that will scare their children, but parents still want to make their children aware of what to do in case of an emergency, she said.
Princeton Elementary Superintendent Tim Smith said the PES District practices drills at each school building on what to do in case of any type of emergency, much like parents would have practiced when they were in school.
In the event of an actual emergency, a staging area would be set up at the site of the emergency where parents could go to get reunited with their children, after an inventory of the students is taken, Smith said.
Going into the school year, Smith encouraged parents to talk with their children about the importance of listening and following directions during the drills.
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Back-to-school planning tips
• Know your child’s school or day care emergency plan.
• Find out where children will be taken in the event of an evacuation during school hours.
• Ensure your emergency contact information is up-to-date at your child’s school.
• Pre-authorize a friend or relative to pick up your children in an emergency and make sure the school knows who that designated person is.
• Have a family communications plan and review the plan periodically with your child. The plan should include contact information for an out-of-area family member or friend, since local telephone networks may not work during a major disaster.
Source: Illinois Emergency Management.