Ector County School District Has a Plan Ready For Severe Weather Events
Josh Navarro NewsWest 9
ODESSA - Two elementary schools were hit by the terrifying tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, on Monday. At one of those schools, seven students were killed by the twister. NewsWest 9 spoke with the Ector County ISD about whether or not they are ready if and when a twister strikes our area.
Children who went to class Monday morning at Plaza Towers Elementary School went to learn math and science. But at the end of the day, they learned something more valuable, survival. Seven students perished when that deadly twister ripped through Moore, Oklahoma. It left several others crawling out of the rubble bloodied and bruised.
"We do have processes and plans in place when in case something like what has happened in Oklahoma were to happen here," Mark Rowden, ECISD Chief of Police, said.
Rowden says those emergency plans are tested at least annually to make sure Ector County schools are safe whenever such a weather event occurs.
"Our schools conduct a minimum number of tornado drills, our severe weather drills, every year. That way the students are aware of what to do, yes they do have specific procedures that they follow," Rowden said. "They have specific things that they do, areas within the school that they're taken that have been deemed the safest in the event of a severe weather event. "
New schools are set to be built after a school bond was approved recently. It's still in planning stages and NewsWest 9 asked Rowden if he knew if any of the new buildings would be built to withstand tornadoes or even include bunkers.
"Those things are considered in the design. I'll be honest with you we haven't gotten that far along in the design of the buildings to this point. But yes, its always safety in every way is a consideration in the construction of a new school," Rowden said.
Right now, the school district has an emergency alert system to notify parents minute by minute when an emergency crisis arises.
"That's one of the reasons why we have those cooperatives between the governmental entities is simply because the fact if one fails, or say for instance, our administration building was to be hit, then we have another way communicating to the public. Another thing is we would use the news media," Rowden said.
Back in Moore, the school superintendent, Susan Pierce, said teachers and administrators put their well rehearsed crisis plan into action as the tornado approached. But she says there are limits to what people can do in the face of such a powerful storm.