(COVINGTON, La) The third week of school has come and gone, and returning students knew what to expect: Safety Week. While five years of repeating the same drills may seem redundant, these drills carry great importance and can save lives if ever necessary.
“We do these procedures at the beginning of the year because everyone is getting things together, and if anything else, we want the teachers and students to be as prepared as possible from day one,” Principle Trevor Watkins said. “We try to begin the drills as early as we can, within reason. School just started and everything is settling in, but it is early enough to practice. Every school is required to go through these safety drills, but we like to actually practice them, to work out the kinks. It also brings first responders onto campus so they know what to do in case of emergency, as well.”
St. Paul’s prides itself on being a safe place for a students to learn and grow. Performing these drills until the school reaches maximum efficiency is not just to run-through them for fun; it is for the students’ and faculty’s well-being and protection. While the administration hopes the school may never actually experience anything that will require a total evacuation or intruder drill, they feel it is never a bad idea to be prepared.
“I think this year was the best ever,” Watkins said. “I am so impressed with how our teachers responded, how our students responded. When I spoke with the first responders, they told me how impressed they were by how cooperative the young men were. To account for all students in under four minutes is quite amazing, and to account for all students in a total evacuation drill in under nine minutes is even more amazing.”
Living in Louisiana, weather can be very unpredictable, which can sometimes create very problematic situations. Over the past few years, strong tornadoes have more frequently encroached upon the Mandeville/Covington area, and with many tornado warnings being placed in effect all throughout the year. Just last year, tornado protocol was enforced at St. Paul’s as a tornado swept through nearby Madisonville, leaving students to shelter in place, reading their SSR materials in the hallways and other safe locations for about 45 minutes. (Illustrated by Instagram post below from Feb. 7, 2016 by Colin Rice/The Paper Wolf).
“There are drills we are required to do, like fire drills. There are also drills that we simply like to do,” Watkins said. “If we perceive there is something we might need it for, we will practice the appropriate drill. For instance, we have a hurricane that may or may not affect us. Hurricanes sometimes produce tornadoes, so if we see any threat of a tornado, we might go ahead and practice the drill to prepare, in case we need to enforce it.”
Watkins concluded by saying that safety is not just about teachers and faculty knowing where to bring students just in case of an emergency, or even the students understanding what to do. He said that the most important aspect of safety is a student being aware of what is going on, and if he sees anything out of sorts that may be dangerous, to notify a faculty member. Whether it be something like a branch that could fall and injure someone, or something much more serious, Watkins notes that it is always better to be safe than sorry.