Take a look inside schools’ approach to statewide tornado drill


BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — It’s Severe Weather Preparedness Week in North Carolina.

Wednesday’s focus is tornadoes and how to stay safe when one hits. Schools across the area taking part in tornado drills.

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Belville Elementary School and Alderman Elementary School were just two of several schools conducting drills. They are usually done in the hallway, but this year’s drill was altered due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Students sat in a duck-and-cover position next to their desks.

“We had them conduct the drill right at their seats, keeping that spacing,” Alderman Elementary Principal Kate Tayloe said. “However, in the event of a real tornado, certainly the risk for human life, you know, would be more imminent, and so in those cases, you know we wouldn’t necessarily follow those protocols. So, talk to students about the difference between the two and the need to keep that physical distancing as we practiced today.”

“Well a drill is practice, it’s not real, but you try to make it as real as possible,” Belville Elementary Principal Rick Hessman said. “So we do our drills as it is expected. You know our fire drills, our tornado drills, our earthquake and hurricane drills, but we try to make it as real as it can be.”

Both principals believe these drills are are a priority to keep students safe.

“Weather is real, and we live in an area that is prone to hurricanes,” Hessman said. “We live in an area that can experience tornados. More tornados more in the northern end of the county, than in the southern end, but you want to be prepared for any of that.”

“During Severe Weather Preparedness Week, one of the things that we look at is in any weather event how we would make sure we were ensuring our safety,” Tayloe said. “So, whether that’s our protocols if we were to have an earthquake, or a tornado, or any other kind of event. We want to make sure that students are prepared and know what to do so that we can keep them safe at school.”

Belville Elementary runs tornado drills twice a year, once in the fall and this state-mandated tornado drill in the spring.

Learn more about tornado safety here.