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.