Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


January 21, 2014

Battling ice, snow, schools run drills for tornadoes


But, Copple said, school officials also found some areas that were structurally more secure than they previously thought, such as some classrooms and a hallway near the library.

For the roughly 600 kids who occupy the building on normal school days, the school has more than enough shelter space, said Tom Hunter, superintendent of Greensburg Community Schools.

Copple said school officials and first responders took that approach with every building, making sure that they had the best plan in place and had identified the best locations in which students can take shelter in severe weather.

Hunter emphasized that the decisions about where students should be sheltered were made by structural architects and emergency management personnel — not by educators.

At the elementary school, for example, authorities identified more secondary shelter areas, and, thanks to some additions, the school today can protect about 600 children better than it could 400 students a few years ago, Copple said.

According to Decatur County Community Schools (DCCS) Superintendent Johnny Budd, the 2012 Henryville school collapse didn’t drastically alter the way the district prepares for hazardous weather.

“What happened in Henryville impacted the whole state,” Budd said. “I’ve attended conferences where the principal of the [Henryville] school and the superintendent have talked about the tornado and what they learned from the collapse and the changes they made, but most of the changes we’ve implemented as a result of Henryville have been based on recommendations from the state based on what happened there.”

“We’re constantly striving to make sure we’re always as safe as we possibly can be,” Budd said.

At one time, he added, hallways were considered the safest place for students to take refuge from a tornado, but those guidelines have been changed.

“Hallways are now considered dangerous due to the hazards posed by wind whipping through and flying debris,” he said.

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