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Othello schools to change emergency preparedness training

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | January 13, 2021 1:00 AM

OTHELLO — Emergency training for teachers and students in the Othello School District will change under the terms of a revised policy presented Monday to the Othello School Board, with no board action required.

Gregg Fultz, the district’s risk manager, said the revisions would require an emergency drill each month school is in session. The traditional fire drill still is required, but teachers and students also will practice lockdown techniques and have at least one drill to shelter in place. The minimum per year will be three lockdown and fire drills, one shelter-in-place and two drills building principals can choose.

“Anytime we have school in the month, they (schools) have to do a drill, even if they’re only in school for three days,” Fultz said.

Othello schools are in session from August to June, so schools must have 10 emergency drills. Eight of them are mandated, fire and lockdown drills being examples, and school administrators and staff have their choice of the remaining two, Fultz said.

“Is there a change in the law or something that is promoting this, or is this just proactiveness on the district’s behalf?” asked board member Mike Garza during the meeting. “I agree with it, I like the changes, but I was just wondering if there was something that caused you guys to do this.”

“I can tell you it’s just being proactive, and looking into the future,” Fultz said. “The original procedure, where we had six fire drills required, is more of a past thing. The focus now is lockdowns, or events within schools and around schools that are happening.”

Fultz said emergency preparedness training has been going on, even in the 2020-21 school year.

“Even though students haven’t been in the building, the buildings have been doing drills with their staff.”

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.