CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - You want you child to know what to do in an emergency at school, but you also want them to be safe while learning what to expect.
19 Investigates discovered schools will still required by state law to carry out safety drills this year, amid the pandemic.
Last week, we told you all about the plans North Ridgeville Schools have in place to welcome students back this fall and keep them socially distant in classrooms, during lunch, and on buses.
Like many other administrators in our area, Curriculum Director David Pritt said a new protocol for drills is in the works.
“We know that we are still required to do them, it’s just probably something we have to give a little more thought to,” Pritt said.
According to Ohio Law, schools must conduct least one Emergency Evacuation or school safety drill per month.
The state fire marshal requires a fire drill within the first 10 days of the school year.
“The fire drill is a little easier than tornado drill,” Pritt said. “What will help us with those type of drills is that the number of students in the building will be limited.”
The Ohio Fire Marshal says “the best way to evaluate preparedness is to mimic evacuation as closely as possible to an actual event.”
After receiving our questions this week about how to keep students safe during the practice, the Fire Marshal’s office put out guidance on how to carry out a drill, recognizing that it quote “may not be possible to maintain social distancing during all portions of a safety drill.”
In the document sent to administrators, the state said,
According to a 2019 report from the National Fire Protection Association, US fire departments respond to an average 33 hundred school fires each year.
Schools safety expert Ken Trump started putting the need to talk about safety drills on the radar for administrators since the beginning of this summer.
“Don’t leave it hanging out there, you’re still going to have to address it because you’re still going to have kids in school,” he said.
After reading them Tuesday, Trump says the guidelines send down by the state send mixed messages.
“If our health and lives depend upon social distancing, but you tell me for these 10 minutes it is OK not to [social distance], even though there is no emergency and a low likelihood of there being one, then I’m confused. The virus isn’t going to pause for 10 minutes just because they have a mask on while they do a drill.”
In an email, Trump also said, “I think that given the (hopefully) short time we will be under this COVID-19 cloud, they could verbally walk kids through the expectations in a real fire, tornado, or lockdown. IF schools want to practice, take kids a half dozen at a time, totally social distance,and practice tornado drills. Practice fire drills using social distancing that they’re preaching. Teach the kids if it was real they would need to follow directions and move quickly, that this situation now is temporary. For lockdowns, just verbally walk them through, show them a video or pictures, etc. without going into hard corners crammed and inches apart.”