School changes timing of evacuation drills

On Thursday Feb. 17 during the middle of 4th period, a faulty sensor in the 800 building triggered a fire alarm. Administration didn’t know what was going on, so they initiated a school-wide evacuation. Fire trucks and EMS arrived to make sure everything was well. There was a lot of confusion and rumors going around, and some were not sure where to evacuate to since they had never experienced a drill in the building their class is in. Some students weren’t with their class after evacuating and left the campus early, skipping the rest of fourth period.

For years, RRHS evacuation drills have been done during second and sixth periods so they don’t run into lunch times and off periods. This isn’t adequate. Emergencies could happen at any time. It makes no sense to have students only know where to go a quarter of the time. In response to some of these concerns, RRHS is changing up how it does evacuation drills and this is largely a good thing. 

Assistant principal Jeff Black is in charge of safety drills. There’s a climate committee made up of teachers and students who suggested he change what classes safety drills happen in. The school must have an evacuation drill every month with 10 or more days. They will stick to this while still trying to change it up by having drills in other class periods. This is something that’s already being implemented. There was an evacuation drill during first period on March 30.

The purpose of drills isn’t only to prepare students and staff for emergencies, but also determine if the bells are working, lights are flashing, voice is repeating “evacuate”, etc. It’s a test of the physical system as well as people. While the February false alarm showed that testing the alarm system is important too, the people part isn’t flawless and will benefit from evacuation drills during different times of the day. 

Some people may be concerned that these drills will interrupt more class time, but the administration isn’t going to change the frequency of drills. It’s also very unlikely that there would ever be drills during third period because of lunch times.

In addition to the drills the school has now, teachers should show students where to go in an emergency as part of first day procedures. They shouldn’t just tell them, but take a walk as a class and go there and/or have a presentation with pictures of what doors to go through and places to evacuate to. By having this on the first day of school, it wouldn’t take away from lesson time. That would be a more effective way for students to learn about campus safety procedures, and it’d be more memorable.