CCSD adjusts emergency drills amid COVID-19 pandemic

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a top priority for Lowcountry school districts since mid-March. With COVID protocols in practice, the district has also implemented changes to the way in which emergency drills are conducted in schools.

“We’ve continued to provide regular training to our staff on our emergency operations procedures,” said Michael Reidenbach, the Director of Security and Emergency Management for CCSD.

That training is reinforced through emergency drills.

During a fire drill, you’d expect to see crowded hallways as an entire building evacuates. But this year, the Office of State Fire Marshal has put forth new recommendations with social distancing in mind. Evacuations are staggered.

“By staggering the evacuations, we’re not all leaving at the same time. We’re still practicing how we should evacuate, reinforcing those procedures,” said Reidenbach.

He says in the event of a real fire emergency evacuating as fast as possible is the top priority. Masks would be worn.

Armed intruder drills involve demonstration and discussion led by a staff member.

“So a staff member may walk to a certain area of a classroom and demonstrate what the staff and students would be doing during an actual lockdown,” said Reidenbach. “Engaging in a discussion with students about why we do these things during this particular emergency.”

Students also may demonstrate what to do one at a time. In turn, that means drills take a little longer.

“That’s really, I think, going to be a beneficial outcome of all of this is that added time that we’ve spent on the discussion versus just going through the motions of practicing the moves we have to make during an emergency,” said Reidenbach.

Earthquake and tornado drills, each held once per year, allow students and staff to practice the motion of taking cover under their desks, but groups are staggered to maintain social distance.

For more details on CCSD’s emergency drill protocols, click here to view the district’s Safe Restart Implementation Guide.

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