Safety drills altered due to social distancing, construction

Julianna Poe, Trending Editor

Last week, Manhattan High conducted the first of four safety drills schools in Kansas are required to practice: tornado drills.

Due to pandemic restrictions, what would normally be referred to as “safety week” has been changed to “safety weeks.” On Tuesday and Friday, on-site students and staff practiced a modified version of a tornado drill, which did not involve moving to a different location. Instead, classes reviewed the course of action that would be taken in the event of a real tornado.

“We didn’t do the tornado drill [because] we didn’t want to put everybody in a small area,” assistant principal Larry Myers said, “so we just had the teachers go over procedures and we talked about the different practices that you need to have.”

In addition to finding ways to follow social distancing guidelines, construction on Manhattan High has made it more difficult to conduct certain drills. The number of exits and rooms available make establishing a plan for fire and tornado drills limited, despite “a little over a third” of the student body in the building at a time.

“If there was an actual emergency, we would just have to do the best that we can as far as social distancing,” Myers said. “We’re looking for places to put students and make sure that there would be room for everybody.”

The fire drill will be executed this week on Tuesday and Friday. In the weeks following, lockdown and secure campus will be exercised with little to no alterations compared to previous years. Furthermore, each of these safety drills will be rehearsed once more in the spring, hence remote students who switch to on-site at semester will have the opportunity to partake in these procedures as well.

“I think students have been pretty well trained throughout their elementary and middle school years to … know what to do [in the event of an emergency],” Myers said. “I don’t expect everybody in a real emergency to know exactly what to do, but if they … take a deep breath and … focus on what the procedures are, … they should be okay.”