Is your child’s school prepared for a severe weather threat?

We’re in the midst of quite an amazing stretch of weather. I can’t remember the last time we had a series of nearly 70 degree days in mid March.  And this record-breaking heat wave stretches across much of the Midwest and Northeast. It feels like summer except without the mosquitos.
However, this unseasonably mild March air could come with a price – A higher chance for severe weather earlier in the season, when more kids are in school.
We’ve already seen numerous tornadoes in the Midwest including this one near Ann Arbor, Michigan a few days ago.
Fortunately, no one was hurt or killed in this tornado.
Just two weeks ago, a series of tornadoes tore through several towns across Indiana and Kentucky.
The town of Henrvyville, Indiana was practically wiped off the map.  Maybe you have seen the pictures from Henryville High School.   Administrators safely dismissed students just 20 minutes before a devastating twister hit the school.

CBS did a story this week Schools face tough calls with tornado outbreak.  And they most certainly do. Administrators are making life and death decisions when severe weather threatens. And what tools and information are schools using to make those decisions? NPR just did a story  this week titled “Tornado Tech: What if Dorothy Had a Smartphone?” 

My mind went immediately to our own district which couldn’t even make a clear choice about what to do about school on a snowy morning. I’ve never had a Facebook posts get so many comments. You can read more about it here, but the bottom line is the Superintendent in our district came under fire for her lack of leadership on a Snow Day. Instead of opening or closing school, she made school “optional” without clearly relaying that message to the schools. There was chaos when the kids got off the bus.

I get a little worried if a tornado situation would strike during the middle of our school day. Could I trust our district’s staff to take control? I just found out today, our kids haven’t had their annual tornado drill yet this year. It’s not planned until Minnesota’s Severe Weather Awareness Week which starts April 16th.

So I asked the district tonight if they would consider moving up the date of the drill? Recently, Meteorologist Paul Douglas wrote in his Weather Nation Headlines blog  about the possibility of an earlier severe storm season in Northern Lattitudes.  That means more tornadoes possibly hitting earlier than usual.

Is your district adequately prepared? I do believe criteria and logistics vary widely. While dismissing early in Henryville turned out to be an incredibly good call. I also wonder if in some schools, shelter areas might be considered safer than some homes?

I just hope these recent severe weather stories will be viewed as an opportunity for districts to revisit their severe weather policies and re-share those policies with their communities.  Maybe it will also prompt students to take tornado drills a little  more seriously.

Would love to get your thoughts. Do you trust your district leadership if faced with severe weather threats? Do they have the most updated tools and information they need to make the best choices for their students and staff?
Please let me know what you think.  Or share what’s being done in your district .
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