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Students ‘duck and cover’ for safety
The alarm sounded and students and teacher started filing into the hallways. The students were serious and quiet as they quickly lined up along the walls, crouched down and covered their heads with their hands.

“Move quickly now,” said teachers at Paw Creek Elementary as they led their students to their assigned locations.

Students across the state, including those in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, participated in a tornado drill on Friday, March 5. The National Weather Service broadcast the drill at 9:30 a.m. At that time, students and staff left their classrooms and moved to the safest part of their buildings, then sat in the “duck and cover” position. The head-down position is designed to protect them from flying debris.

“Every school has safety procedures that are reviewed periodically,” said Kevin Earp, director of safety. “Drills like this ensure our students and staff know what to do if there is a severe-weather emergency that affects our schools.”

Paw Creek is an unusual elementary-school campus. There are multiple buildings, including a third-grade modular classroom building. During a tornado drill, all students must move into the main buildings and find shelter in interior hallways, away from the potential of flying glass. During the statewide drill, approximately 600 students and staff members were in place in less than three minutes.

Paw Creek Principal Mary Jo Koenig said her students practiced the procedures, so they would be ready for the drill – or for a real emergency.

“Because we practice, the students aren’t afraid, they aren’t scared at all,” she said. “We talk about it in class, I demonstrate on the closed-circuit television. Our students know what to do. They go home and tell their parents, ‘I know what to do when there is a tornado.’”

CMS monitors weather conditions and alerts individual schools when severe weather is in their areas. All schools have weather radios in their offices that sound alarms for severe-weather warnings. School safety procedures may include diagrams of building layouts and the safest places to move students and staff when severe weather threatens, including bringing students out of mobile classrooms and into buildings.

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