SPS Safety Drills Getting Even Safer

All students, faculty, and staff evacuate the entire school during a drill for Safety Week. (photo by Nico Arcuri)

All students, faculty, and staff silently evacuate to the farthest point on campus during a Safety Week drill. (photo by Nico Arcuri)

(COVINGTON, La.) — The last two weeks have been filled with the multiple safety drills that St. Paul’s School has to offer. From fire to intruder drills, SPS makes sure that all of their bases are covered with one of the most extensive safety drills programs in the state.

“We exceed the state standards. We are very efficient in the drills,” Principal Trevor Watkins said.

Local law enforcement is very complimentary when SPS does the drills, Watkins explained, noting,  “We should do them more often, and this year we will try to do them more unannounced.”

During the all-school evacuation drill, runners were assigned for each class to deliver roll slips, ensuring that no child was left behind. (photo by Nico Arcuri)

During the all-school evacuation drill, runners were assigned for each class to deliver roll slips, ensuring that no child was left behind. (photo by Nico Arcuri)

The manner in which SPS conducts the drills has changed in the recent past, including addressing a variety of dangerous scenarios and utilizing more extensive and detailed procedures.

“The way we do drills now started about five years ago. Mrs. (Merle) Dooley and I formulated the drills. The standard fire drills weren’t preparing our school for what could happen,” Watkins said.

According to Watkins, the local authorities help in the schools drills. The police department and fire department are on site when the drills are being performed and give advice on how the school can improve.

“There is always room for improvement for the drills, and we (the administration) do tweak every year to make the drills run even smoother,” said Watkins.

One of the drills recently executed includes the “intruder drill,” during which the students and faculty of St. Paul’s try to avoid being seen by someone that might cause harm.

“Our idea is to become invisible,” said Watkins.  “We don’t want anyone to be a target. We hope that by the time it takes someone to realize what is happening, law enforcement will be here.”

Watkins feels the students are adequately prepared for a variety of situations.

Principal Trevor Watkins congratulated the school for completing the drill in under eight minutes. (photo by Nico Arcuri)

Principal Trevor Watkins congratulated the school for completing the evacuation drill in under eight minutes. (photo by Nico Arcuri)

“I think that our students will react very well if the drills weren’t actually drills.We have very smart students, and they have a lot of common sense. A lot of previous situations were deterred by students acting and telling faculty,” Watkins said. “We hope that we never have to use these drills in a real situation.”

Sophomore Jordan Kliebert agreed regarding the school’s level of preparedness, noting, “It is good, but it could be better.”

Watkins acknowledged that there could be flaws in the drill system, especially if someone knows the school’s procedures. For example, someone could call in a bomb threat and lie in wait for the student body to evacuate to their assigned positions.

Watkins responded, “There is always a concern that someone will use a drill against us,” Watkins said. “We do coordinate with law enforcement and the Louisiana State Board of Education, and we do have procedures that  I can’t disclose.”

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