Severe Weather Plan for After School Programs

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | e-mail

HAMILTON, GA (WTVM) - All schools have a safety plan in place if severe weather strikes during the school day, but what happens to students attending after school activities? News Leader Nine headed to Harris County where they had to put that plan to use during Wednesday's storms.

When severe weather hits late in the afternoon, schools in Harris County have a plan when it comes to keeping your children safe.

Principal of Park Elementary School, Angi Jackson said, "Our after school director is actually seated in the office with the weather radio, so when we do have a problem we immediately follow the same procedures as a regular school day."

Once the tornado warning moved to Harris County, after school program coordinators, like Christy Searcy, moved the children to a safe location, "We were out in the mobile unit and you have to come down an outdoor corridor to get back to the main building."

Jackson added, "I was watching Channel 9 and once the warning was given, we communicated back on forth on cell phones and once it moved towards Talbotton -- they didn't have access to the TV's here -- I called back and gave the all clear."

"Communication is the best because we want the kids to be safe and we don't want them to worry. We want them to know we've got it under control," said Searcy.

But what if it's not only students to worry about, but hundreds of fans packed in for a basketball game?  High School officials say they also revert back to the original safety plan. Harris County High School Assistant Principal, Mark Gilreath told News Leader Nine, "Coaches would take their players and execute their part, we would bring fans into the building. Of course we would avoid windows and take people in the school facility, advise them of what's going on as far as the warning, and advise them of the procedures."

All Harris County schools have a GEMA approved severe weather plan and as we saw Wednesday, it works. Other area schools give parents the option to come and pick up their children during storm warnings. Either way, if you're kids are staying after school, administrators have plans to keep them safe.