HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The halls of San Marcos High School were filled with emergency responders, school staff, parents and students. They were all there to get a lesson in reunification training ahead of the school year.
The Hays County Standard Response Protocol (SRP) Task Force hosted the two-day event focused on classroom training, demonstrations and active exercises to prepare for an actual reunification of students with their parents or guardians.
The training focused on the Standard Reunification Method (SRM) that was developed by the “I Love U Guys” Foundation.
Founder of the organization, John-Michael Keyes, said the foundation started after his daughter died in a school shooting. Keyes said on that day, his daughter, Emily, texted, “I love you guys.”
Participants are put into groups to act out a reunification drill. Some act as greeters, and they meet parents as they arrive on the scene. Others would reunite students with their parents after they verified a parent’s information, and the student verbally confirmed they were comfortable going home with the adult.
“The parent then takes the card to the reunifier. The reunifier then fetches the student,” Keyes said.
Particularly in Hays County, the number of students continues to grow every school year which could prolong the reunification process.
But San Marcos ISD Safety Director Doug Wozniak said they’re ready for whatever growth comes their way.
“It may take a little bit more longer the more you grow. But if you got good people, and you got good systems into place, and those are all established, then everything should go smoothly,” Wozniak said.
With the first day of school around the corner, SMHS student Kevin Morales said he’s leaving the drill with some peace of mind.
“Training like this is gonna help us. So if it ever does happen, we’ll know what to do, and we’ll be alright,” Morales said.
Hays County Communications Manager Kim Hilsenbeck said the Austin Regional Intelligence Center covered the $3,000 for the training.