What Happens at 3:30? After-school Emergency Planning is Key – A Note From the Teacher
A Note From The Teacher
by Jennifer Cummings, M.Ed.
What Happens at 3:30? After-school Emergency Planning is Key
Due to the necessity of most families having working parents, many students now return to an empty home or a babysitter’s residence at the end of a school day. This, in and of itself, is not a problem where school personnel are concerned. Like most other families, many educators themselves have school-aged children who spend some time on their own at the end of the day.
However, schools are required to be sure that students are safe, and this can create a collision between the worlds of the school and working parents. By understanding the responsibilities of the school and planning ahead in case of emergencies, most negative situations regarding after-school care can be avoided.
By following these three easy steps almost all after-school supervision issues can be resolved more easily:
1.) Always keep updated contact information on file at the administration office and the nurses office
It is imperative that school personnel can get in touch with a parent, guardian, or family-appointed contact person quickly in order to relay important information about a child. Schools will try to contact different people who are designated as appropriate care providers, even if a parent cannot be reached at work. However, it is important that there are multiple contacts for people in case of emergency. These people should have access to a vehicle or have access to transportation in cases an emergency pick-up is needed, and they should know your child. Too often schools reach contact people only to find out that no one has transportation available to pick up the child who has become ill or has missed their bus. Emergency caretakers should also be prepared to show picture identification at the school before picking up your child.
2.) Have an alternate after school plan in place
It is the simple law of averages that states that babysitters will become ill, students will miss the bus, freak snowstorms will close school early, or and unplanned after school sessions will derail the best after school schedule. Schools will work to notify parents of any change in schedule that they are aware of, and many have automated systems to help with whole-school notification of emergencies. However inconvenient these situations are, parents need to be prepared in case these events happen; ultimately, parents are responsible for transporting their child when they are notified by the school that their child needs to be picked up due to an emergency. Know ahead of time who will pick up or meet a child that has gone to the wrong after school location; though it is always difficult to leave work or other commitments, it is more important that students are safe when they leave school.
3.) Young students must have supervision
Many young children are required to be supervised after school, depending on your local school district’s age requirements. Many districts will not release young elementary school students if there is not an adult or other responsible adult at the bus stop to meet them. In some cases, students who are not met at the bus are returned to the school or to the local police department until a parent is contacted. Please realize that though this can pose problems for working parents, these types of rules are in place for the safety of all children. Having students released to a responsible person helps guarantee the safety of the child.
Everyone, both school personnel and parents, are concerned for the safety of the students, and everyone realizes that occasionally unexpected things occur. Traffic jams, broken down vehicles, delays at work, illness, or bad weather can all interfere with the best-laid plans. However, by having emergency plans in place and communicating quickly with the school student safety will be maintained at all times. Remember, student safety works best when it is a cooperative effort between home and school!
Thanks to everyone who reads our column regularly. We look forward to sharing new ideas and advice with you each month.
"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings.