Safety drills present challenges for schools amid COVID-19 pandemic


NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio (WJW)– School safety drills, including fire drills, are still required amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s created some new challenges for schools.

Districts, including North Ridgeville City Schools, have adapted fire drills to maintain social distancing and reduce crowding as students exit buildings and wait outside.

Director of Operations Matt Yunker said active intruder drills now focus on scenario discussions instead of active simulation.

“Just because of this pandemic, we couldn’t set these safety drills to the side, so we had to figure out a way to do it,” Yunker said.

Ohio requires at least six fire drills per year for all school building occupants and monthly tornado drills from April through July.

“Now more than ever, schools need to be conducting fire drills, according to the Ohio Fire Code,” Ohio State Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon said.

He said drills are especially important amid new barriers, changes to pathways in and out of buildings, and more substitute teachers in buildings due to COVID-19.

“There are a lot of variables in many schools now that might alter the normal way children exit the building, so the children need to know how to do that and the teachers need to know how to do that,” Reardon said.

Students learning remotely aren’t required to take part in the drills.

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