Schools prepared for war threat
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
War in the Middle East has generated concerns among officials, students and parents across the country regarding safety in the event of the local threat of terrorism, but Hartselle City Schools leaders say students and faculty here are well prepared for such an event.
Hartselle Schools Superintendent Dr. Lee Hartsell contacted principals at each of the system's five schools to ensure emergency management procedures were in place and being practiced.
"Procedures are in place at each of our schools, but I asked principals to review and practice those procedures," Hartsell said. "I hope and pray that we never have to use them, but it's best to be prepared."
Hartselle High School Principal Jerry Reeves said after talking with Hartsell, a faculty meeting was called at his school to review such procedures.
"I feel that we have a good program in place for many emergencies," Reeves said. "Our students are well drilled in severe weather, fire, evacuation, and lockdown situations. We hold drills each month and two to three lockdowns per year."
Reeves said, should a complete evacuation of the school ever occur, students and employees would congregate by class on the school's practice field. Hartselle Police Department would then direct administrators to bus students to Sparkman Civic Center.
"In a typical evacuation drill, the buildings are completed emptied in approximately 45 seconds," Reeves said. "It takes five to 10 minutes for 900 students and 100 faculty members to be fully assembled and accounted for on the practice field. It's really a well-oiled program."
Once relocated, Reeves said the school's Crisis Response Team, which consists of faculty and community members, would coordinate the relocation sight and establish police, parent, triage, and media sites.
"We have someone trained to take care of each situation," Reeves said.
Hartselle Junior High School Principal John Frank Parker said his school has also reviewed its emergency procedures and is prepared for most any emergency.
"The situation here is normal, but we are certainly aware of national events," Parker said. "War or no war, our school is always vigilant in its efforts to guarantee the security of our students and staff."
Parker said the evacuation plan for the junior high coincides with that of the high school. The school also practices emergency drills each month.
"Our students are old enough that they need to be aware and have an understanding of wartime events," Parker said. "We are definitely prepared for a number of possible emergencies, but we are trying not to create any undo anxiety for the students. The best thing we can do for them is try to make each day as normal as possible."
Hartsell said Barkley Bridge, Crestline, and F.E. Burleson elementary schools have also reviewed their emergency management procedures and are fully prepared for a number of emergencies.