Savannah-Chatham County Schools Prepare For Severe Weather - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Savannah-Chatham County Schools Prepare For Severe Weather

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Some of the victims of Monday's tornadoes were children - killed as they sheltered inside their school while the storm passed. We wondered what our local schools would do if threatened in a similar way. News 3 took questions to school and emergency officials to find out. The Savannah-Chatham School District does have plans in place to protect our kids from the type of severe weather we usually see around here - including tornadoes.

Savannah-Chatham county schools consult with the Chatham Emergency Management Agency on a regular basis. C.E.M.A. Director Clayton Scott says, "It will normally be based on weather forecasts as to - we're forecast to have extremely bad weather with lots of storms and the possibility of tornadoes - should we cancel school?" That rarely happens - and if tornadoes threaten during the school day - there isn't time to get children home - so children are safer sheltering in the safest location possible...away from windows and doors. Savannah-Chatham School's Police Chief Ulysses Bryant explains, "They have certain areas of the school that have no window or no glass doors or anything like that - they just have a solid wall and there the kids will be positioned in a covered and protected positions until the danger has passed."

There are district-wide emergency plans - each school has a copy, laying out exactly where the safety zones are in that particular building. Pulaski Elementary is a new building with special areas built for added safety. Vice Principal Alex Ludtke explains, "In between each classroom - we're lucky that we have a hallway with two bathrooms that closes off and so we have one class inside the bathroom area in the hallway and then that allows us to have more room in the hallways for the older kids to come down."

There are also several windowless classrooms and doors that can be closed off in case of emergency. Each safety zone is clearly labeled - and maps are posted throughout the school. Children and teachers practice tornado drills. According to Ludtke, "We've only had to do one drill this year but we have done more than that just to make sure that we know what we're doing - it's a new building - we have new kids come in and out every year - our population fluctuates a lot - so we want to make sure that everyone's prepared in any kind of situation." And they hope they never have to use it.

Each school is required by the state and district to hold a tornado drill once a year - but District officials say individual schools can practice as often as they like - Chief Bryant say many - like Pulaski - do so more than once a year.

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