Weather Decisions Can Mean Life Or Death For Students
I am a trained weather spotter and always monitor the sky anytime there is a threat of severe weather. I report to the National Weather Service in Louisville about conditions as they unfold and they pass the information to the general public.
During the spring tornadoes can be seen in early morning hours but a tornado in January is concealed because the sun isn’t up. Add to that, a rain wrapped and we have the makings for potential disaster. That was the case this morning.
When my ears began popping I knew the pressure had changed and the possibility of a tornado was high. I opened my front door I saw the rain that was falling nearly horizontal at that point, start twisting and swirling into a perfect funnel form. I immediatel beat on my neighbors door to warn them but despite knowing what danger to look for, I still had seen it. People tend to look and see only rain not considering there is danger hiding on the other side of that rain. In more ways than one, we all should be acutely aware that just because we don’t see a threat doesn’t mean its not there.
Apparently, this illusion of safety extended to our school leadership. But that illusion is not an excuse because we’ve known the storm was coming for days. It even made national news. We also knew that the path of the storm was headed straight for us and would hit at the exact time small kids on wet, dangerous county roads would be boarding busses. It was a fast moving storm and an hour delay would’ve been sufficient. Decisions made by school leaders can save or risk lives and sometimes it’s up others to determine if they will obey the decision or not.
On May 18, 1995 my nephews were waiting to exit a bus at Jessamine County High School when the principal made the decision to have drivers hold students on the buses rather than open their doors at the bell. A storm had been brewing since the middle of morning pick up and the principal could tell a different plan was needed for the 600 students in the parking lot. The storm created millions of dollars in damage to the school district. But because a principal made a decision no students were walking the halls of the school when the wall collapsed. Had those students been in the school rather than on the buses there would have been more than 26 injured and would’ve likely resulted in fatalities. Those kids now have an exciting tale to relay to their own kids thanks to the decision of one man.
As parents it is first our responsibility to make choices about our kids attending school. No parent should ever put a child on a bus if they have questions or misgivings about safety. But the district equally shares that responsibility, especially for students whose parents aren’t home when they get on the bus.
At 5 a.m. we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the fast moving storm was barreling down on us at the same time elementary students would be boarding buses. There was no guess work here. Over the last few years Clark County has developed a chronic lack of weather safety and parents are furious. Parents feel children are being put at risk by district decisions.
Making today’s circumstances worse are rumors that Superintendent Elaine Farris didn’t show up at work today. Many are wondering if that’s because she didn’t want to come out in the weather or if she is hiding, unwilling to take responsibility for the choice to not delay school. I have no idea where Elaine Farris is. But wherever she is, I hope she’s getting an apology and a better weather plan together.
Stand Up Clark County and refuse to accept decisions that shift in the wind.
EF2 Tornado confirmed in Warren County http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=lmk&storyid=92212&source=0
- Some Athens area schools closing early, not running buses (onlineathens.com)
- Severe weather rakes US midsection (newsnet5.com)
- Live: Tornado chasers in the south (wptv.com)
- 1 dead as vast storm rakes South, Midwest (onlineathens.com)
- Students Seek Shelter From Weather In Area Schools (5newsonline.com)