One of the worst things that can happen in a school day is when there are tornado WARNINGS. I mean the warnings that tell you they are out there somewhere, but you just aren’t exactly sure where. Tornadoes are a scary thing, and when you are responsible for 500 children, plus staff it is a very serious time. Every person’s safety is up to your actions and preparations.
We were pretty good at preparing for these types of emergencies. The staff and kids knew exactly what to do and how to do it properly. I think we were as safe as we could possibly be when bad weather arose.
That is when the parents went BESERK!! With a capital BBBBB. I don’t know what it is about a dark sky and rain that makes their minds react so erratically, but this is how it goes.
Bad weather is approaching. Usually, we already have our weather radio on and radar on the computer. We will get a call from the administration building and the police department. It’s just a toss-up as to which calls first, but it’s always after we are already aware. As soon as we get the call, we go into our tornado drill which involves locking all personnel down in rooms without windows and with interior walls. Students are placed side by side, against the wall, hands over head for protection. Adults are about checking on kids that have asthma, or might just be afraid of storms. Most kids are pretty resilient and do what they are supposed to.
The office staff starts answering the hundreds of phone calls and keeps an eye on the radar as the administrators position themselves in the hallways and office to monitor any emergencies that may arise. All rooms are equipped with a panic button so that we can be there in a moment’s notice. Usually, if it goes on for longer than 15 minutes or so, I would go on the intercom and reassure everyone where the storm is and how much longer we may be.
This is where the parents go crazy. They all drive to the school and come rushing into the front door, pushing each other and demanding their children right then. We tell them they can come into the school, probably the safest place to be, but we cannot release the children until the danger has passed. I have had parents cuss us out. Wait a minute, you want to take your kids out into a TORNADO?? What happened to your mind?? Some have told us they are going to get the police to come and get their kids. Come on. Where is your mind?? Do you think the police may be busy during a TORNADO?? Remember Dorothy?? Remember Toto?
It’s very frustrating, and I know they are just frantic about their children, but just trust that in the school is one of the safest places to be. It is certainly not a good idea to be in a car, and most houses and pre-fab home do not have the structural integrity that those old schools do.
So parents, what I have always wanted to say. We have procedures to follow in every emergency. We love your kids and our number one priority is safety. We have to deal with the same dangers every day that you do only for us it involves taking care of 500 kids instead of a couple. Breathe and trust. Come on in out of the rain and help calm a kid.