Day 63 (of 184) in case of emergency
Today was my first time closing a school due to powers beyond my control.
Or rather due to a lack of power.
The Shuswaps first snowfall brought some heavy winds, some car accidents and some falling trees. And shortly before first bell, it turned off our electricity.
I have come close to closing a school before (no power and metal blinds made for a very dark building) but BC Hydro met its deadline and had power going quick. Today there were a lot of uncertainties: downed power line due to a fallen tree & another ‘investigation’ area. Both led to an early afternoon timeframe. At best.
We were also having one of those weird days where the overnight low was higher than the afternoon high. Not a winning combination.
So… How often do you think about what needs to happen to close a school for the day? And be prepared to understands that this is not a one-person job.
First it helps to have a great staff that all pitched in using their own cellphones to call the parents of their classrooms which allowed the office emergency phone to take incoming calls and search for the parents who weren’t at their phones.
Secondly you need great support from the rest of the district – central staff to support the ‘closure’ and coordination of transportation to get the kids safely home.
And you still need a plan of what to do with the kids you can’t reach the parents of (we did not put anyone on the bus that we hadn’t spoken to the parents of beforehand).
These are tough days – especially knowing that cancelling the day has a significant impact on the upcoming Christmas Concert for our learning community. But the balancing act of convenience vs safety led us to put the safety of the kids ahead of the ‘last practice day’ that might be needed.
These are the days that very few spend time thinking about. Usually just the principal joking about ‘what’s the worst that could happen’. And a building with limited toilets/water and no electricity (no lights, alarms et al) is not the safest environment. Especially as the temperature dropped the way it did.
It was a day that made me proud to be part of the @sorrento83 learning community as we all pulled together (especially PAC members helping to so counts to double and triple check whose families we had talked with and who we still had to reach). We responded very effectively, positively and quickly to respond to a bad situation.
We confirmed we know what to do in case of an emergency. Make sure you think about it as well (as my friend learned when he had a fire in his school due to a holiday ‘door decorating contest’ go bad – exciting a school in winter sometimes means going slow and be ready for the elements is better than rushing out to a winter storm in indoor shoes and a t-shirt)!
Please, be prepared. Always.