Niagara Gazette — Each year, New York State Education Department require school districts review their emergency preparedness plans and approve any changes needed.
Niagara-Wheatfield Superintendent Lynn Marie Fusco felt a proper time to do it in her district would be immediately following a less-than-stellar emergency dismissal at Errick Road Elementary at the end of October, which she said left some parents a little concerned.
“It was obviously unanticipated,” she said. “Fire alarms were not working properly and it was unsafe to have the children occupy the building. Our first concern is always safety for our students and to make sure they’re safe and sheltered and well cared for. We recognize the student pickup could be improved.”
Fusco said an opportunity for parents to comment on their experiences with the dismissal was made available on the district’s website, offering a chance for parents to suggest improvements to the district’s response, which was led by the school’s safety team.
Consisting of members of the school’s staff, including principal Nora O’Bryan, the safety team is going to take the online information, as well as their own observations, and modify some of the practices the school uses in these emergency situations.
The school’s plan will then be incorporated into the larger, district plan, which the school board will approve likely later this month.
Errick Road’s evacuation marked the second major incident at a Niagara-Wheatfield building in the calendar year, following a fire at West Street Elementary this past spring, which caused the school board to create a new policy formally outlawing small appliances, like toasters and microwaves – the cause of the fire – from the building except in specified areas.
The incidents will help the district fine tune its responses, through building-level checklists which are modified from generic, state-level items all districts receive.