I would like to send a well earned congratulations to all the students, teachers, staff, and administration at Foresthill Divide School for an excellent Fire Drill and Shelter in Place Drill that occurred last week.  As a community member and a School Site Council member at Foresthill Divide School, I was extremely pleased with how our school is keeping the children safe.

The Fire Drill was practiced on October 19 at exactly 8:30am as planned by Superintendent / Principal Jack Kramer.  As a witness to this event , the students, teachers, staff, and administration knew exactly what to do.  With over 180 students on campus at this time, the drill ran extremely smooth.   The alarm sounded, the emergency lights flashed in the classrooms, the teachers got their class roll sheets, turned off lights as they lined their face masked students up, exited their rooms,  and proceeded to the farthest part of their playground area. The students waited quietly in a line keeping 6 feet distance between them.  The teachers took roll call, confirmed all students were accounted for and notified the front office administration.

The administrative staff and classified staff double checked all classrooms for people, checked the bathrooms, gym, cafeteria, and other campus areas. An announcement to ”stay in place” was given by Superintendent / Principal Kramer.  The time was now 8:36am.   All students were quiet, well behaved and waited in their line for more instructions.

At 8:37am, an “all clear” was given to the teachers by Superintendent / Principal Kramer.  Mr. Kramer congratulated the students, teachers, staff, and administration for a well-executed 1st fire drill for the 180 students who were on campus .  Then Superintendent / Principal Kramer instructed teachers to return to class. The time was now 8:40 am.

Superintendent / Principal Kramer proceeded to evaluate the drill with the administrative support, classified staff support, and  school site council for any weaknesses and strengths for the next fire drill.  A review with the teachers followed. Superintendent / Principal Kramer reported that the fire department has a key to the school and front gate, so access is always available in the event of an emergency.

On October 22 the Shelter in Place Drill was presented to the student body  at 12:45 pm with 180 students on campus.   This is a sad reality for schools today, so practice is so important.

If any staff member on campus were to witnesses a potential problem, they are instructed to contact the front office. A verbal command for this is a “Lock Down” will come from Superintendent / Principal Kramer or a member of the Emergency Response Team.

If a “lock down” actually occurred,  the Principal would stay in the front office to work with emergency personnel, communicate with teachers as possible and coordinate all procedures, including robo-calls. The Secretary would call 911 and report the incident, do classroom checks when possible, log missing children, staff,  volunteers, and notify parents of pick up procedures.  The Clerk would notify the district office staff and the bus staff, perform classroom checks when safe and support the secretary with emergency cards and provide parent pick up directions from the administration.  Maintenance staff would secure the gym, cafeteria, close and lock front gates, and not let anyone in once the gates are locked until determined safe.

Teachers would keep the students in their rooms, down low and quiet.  They would lock all doors, turn out lights, close windows and blinds, and barricade the doors as much as possible.  They would take roll and create a missing student report. The office would call each teacher for a list of any missing children and provide further information and directions.

Teachers with classes on the playground would return to nearest available room. Teachers at lunch would go to nearest safe location. Personnel without students would find the nearest room and stay until notified.

The Principal and administrative personnel would be working closely with the police and emergency responders.  Teachers would receive updated information from the front office.   Parents would receive information from the Principal/Superintendent.

The Shelter in Place Drill is important so the children are familiar with sitting in the darkened room, being quiet, and understanding that all the teachers are keeping them safe.

At the end of the drill, Superintendent / Principal Kramer reviewed the entire procedure with his staff, task force, personnel,  School Site Council, and teachers.

I am thankful for the forethought of Superintendent / Principal Kramer and his teachers and staff in practicing the Fire Drill and Shelter in Place  emergency drills so early in the school year.  I understand the school is at about 50% for in school learning but thinking ahead and preparing the children for an emergency now is the right direction to go.  As more children return to learning at school, more drills will be repeated,  learned,  and understood so our children will be safe at school

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