Tornado strikes on schools and communities have many school and public safety officials re-evaluating how they address the threat of tornadoes to their schools. Tornado sheltering procedures, training and drills are extremely critical school safety and school crisis preparedness topics.
We still encounter far too many schools that do not have properly written tornado protocols, do not regularly conduct tornado drills or have faulty concepts in place such as sheltering students in areas with open span roofs. We are also seeing school officials that are making significant changes to their tornado procedures without careful research because of one or two unique events. For example, many school officials have begun considering early school closure because of the near miss in Henryville, Indiana. While the decision to close school in that case clearly averted deaths of students, the loss of human life could be staggering if students and staff are caught in the middle of bus transport by a tornado elsewhere.
Concepts that have proven to reduce risk over many situations and many decades of practice should not be abandoned without careful evaluation of those concepts and of local considerations such as school design.
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