It has been a tragic time for people all across the country, following a deadly tornado that swept through Moore, Ok and claimed the lives of several people, some of whom were children.
What many residents have been questioning since this story developed was, “How prepared is Elsberry and the school if this were to ever strike here?”
“Our current tornado plan is to evacuate students into hallways, predominately interior hallways, away from doors and each room is assigned an area they are to go to and crouch down and cover their heads,” said Elsberry R-II School District Superintendent Tim Reller Ed.D. “We practice this plan twice a year, which is required, along with our other safety drills.”
Dr. Reller went on to explain how these are things they want to review and look at to see if people are going to the right spots and what else they can do to better secure the safety of students, faculty and staff.
“Our plan does not currently call for everyone to evacuate to lower areas of the school, such as the basement, which is under the gymnasium,” explained Dr. Reller. “We also have locker rooms and a weight room that’s not on our current plan.”
The theory Dr. Reller said he has always followed is to get into an interior area, which the school has a concrete block building, making the hallways a more secure place away from doors and windows. However, looking forward Dr. Reller also said he would like to work with an emergency coordinator and see what other options may be available for a school structure such as Elsberry.
“Myself and the School Board are also planning to visit this topic over the summer and see what other alternatives we have as well,” said Dr. Reller. “The safety of our students is always our number one priority. I have little ones that go to this school as well and I don’t want to see anything bad happen to them or any student for that matter.”
Dr. Reller went on to say he wants to make sure that they are doing everything they possibly can to keep the safety of everyone the main priority, as does the board. Some of the questions they will discuss are, what the best practices are for the district and how they can better facilitate those needs.
“I think this is a topic that always needs to be revisited but again it also depends on the circumstances,” said Dr. Reller. “When your talking about a time frame and how much warning you have before something like [what happened in Oklahoma] happens. I believe I would much rather have kids secured in a hallway than trying to move them while something is coming through.”
According to Dr. Reller, if there is only a short warning time, trying to move everyone into one particular location may be prohibited by time and all those situations have to be taken into account when any emergency happens.
“Again I think it is something we need to revisit and look at and to take a look at what the experts are saying in that area,” said Dr. Reller. “And that is something we plan to do this summer, is to spend sometime researching and looking at what the experts are saying or what they recommend for schools structured like ours.”
One thing Dr. Reller and the board said is they want to provide a safe place for students and be prepared for emergencies, no matter how rare they could be, but be prepared the best they can.
“The assurance I can give the parents is that we are reviewing our plans and we’ll look at what we do, what our current practices are and make sure those are in line with what the experts say they should be,” said Dr. Reller. “Each school is built a little differently and has different circumstances and we will make sure we do what is best for the safety of our students, which again is our number one priority.”
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