You likely felt the earthquake Sunday morning. I felt it, too, and I immediately checked on the status of our school facilities. We determined our San Francisco Unified School District schools were not harmed by the quake, and relieved that our students could return to class Monday morning.
But what if a big earthquake happens here and what if it happens during a school day? Let's take a moment to review what SFUSD parents most need to know.
What our schools do after an earthquake
Rest assured that all of our schools have an emergency plan and practice with students what to do in the event of an earthquake. Our teachers and other staff are official disaster service workers, this means that they commit to not leaving your children until they are reunited with you or someone you have listed on your emergency card.
Students may be moved to another location to provide better and more direct care. This decision will be made by the district administration and emergency personnel based on an assessment of conditions and the amount of time students may have to stay under the care of school staff. If relocation is necessary, schools will put signage outside the school building to let you know where to find your child. This information will also be posted on the district's website and shared with the media. If phones are working, you may also receive a phone call.
Picking up your child
In the event of an emergency such as an earthquake while your child is at school, you may find that it is difficult to contact your child's school as phone service may be interrupted and/or school staff may be unable to answer phones because they are tending to children's needs.
After something like an earthquake, we know you will be eager to be reunited with your child. Once you have been informed where your child is being cared for by SFUSD staff, anyone who is listed on your child's emergency card can meet staff on duty at the reunification site, and with proper identification the child will be released to his or her care.
Did you return your emergency card?
This is very important: Please fill out your child's emergency card and return it to the school office. Didn't get the card yet? Call your child's school and a staff member will see that you receive one. We need that information from you to take care of your child during an emergency and reunite him or her with you afterward.
If your child has special needs that could require additional assistance in an emergency, be sure to work with school staff to develop an individualized emergency plan.
Your school's emergency plan may be viewed in the school's main office. More information about the SFUSD's emergency plans can be found here: sfusd.edu/en/safety-and-emergency-plan.html.
Prepare your family
We also encourage you to take all necessary steps to prepare your family for an emergency. Tonight, if you haven't already, please map out a plan for your family so everyone knows what do to if we have an earthquake. You can visit www.sf72.org for easy-to-read tips.
Richard A. Carranza is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.