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Cache County School District reunites families at evacuation drill

Sandra Westwood and her sons, Amy Ivie, Principal Cedar Ridge Elementary
Sheri Quinn
Cedar Ridge Elementary School Reunification Event

Around 600 kids and their families gathered at the Cache County Event Center at the fairgrounds in Logan on May 27 for one of Cache County School District’s evacuation drills. Cedar Ridge Elementary School volunteered for this one, called Family Reunification. It's a drill that helps students, families, educators, district staff, law enforcement, and trained volunteers learn what to do in a real-life evacuation event, where families need to be reunited with their children.

According to Curt Jenkins, director of Cache County School Student Services, including safety, the district has been planning for this kind of drill for about two years, delayed due to the pandemic, and it’s the first one at this big of a scale. He said school safety is on everyone’s mind.

“I think we have real purpose now because we have seen the tragedy that unfolded in Texas. It’s definitely something we think about and hold dearly, getting parents and families with their children," said Jenkins.

He added they are testing out their system and laying the groundwork.

“We want families, we want parents to know that we take safety very seriously in our district, most do that. This is just one part of that safety piece,” said Jenkins.

Amy Ivy, the principal at Cedar Ridge Elementary, said they just want to be prepared, and this is verification.

“The more practice you have, it’s like building muscle memory. The more you practice, it just becomes routine,” said Ivie.

The students were bussed to the center, where parents lined up to show ID and pick up their kids, who watched a movie while they waited for them. For parent Sandra Westwood, the drill was a success for her and her two boys.

“I think it’s great to make the parents feel safe, know that their kids are safe. I thought it would be chaos but it’s run smoothly.” It does my heart good knowing the school is prepared and kids are prepared," said Westwood.

Her boys said it was a fun experience and they especially liked riding on the bus.

“And being able to talk to friends and stuff, especially the part where we got off the buses and be in a line and hold hands."

Sheri's career in radio began at 7 years old in Los Angeles, California with a secret little radio tucked under her bed that she'd fall asleep with, while listening to The Dr. Demento Radio Show. She went on to produce the first science radio show in Utah in 1999 and has been reporting local, national and international stories ever since. After a stint as news director at KZYX on northern California's Lost Coast, she landed back at UPR in 2021.