When severe weather is in the forecast, district administrators receive regular updates from local emergency management officials, and school principals will be notified of any potential threats. Also, all schools have weather radios and in the event of a tornado warning, staff members will implement building shelter plans and make every effort to keep students safe. All building occupants (students, staff, visitors) will be directed to the building’s designated shelter area when tornado sirens sound or when an imminent threat is near.
Thanks to improvements made following the 2008 bond issue, we are fortunate to have FEMA-approved safe rooms at each of our six elementary schools. All safe rooms meet FEMA standards and are built to withstand the winds of an EF-5 tornado (approximately 250 mph). They are reinforced with concrete and have steel doors and window shutters to protect against debris projectiles.
Occupants will be released from shelter areas once the severe weather threat has passed. Parents, please be safe during severe weather. Take shelter in a safe location and pick up your child AFTER the severe weather threat has passed. With student safety in mind, once FEMA safe room doors are closed, they will not be opened until the severe weather threat has passed. If you have questions about the severe weather procedures or shelter locations at your child's school, please visit with the building principal.
If severe weather strikes while students are on a school bus, drivers will immediately direct students to the nearest, safe shelter location.
During athletic practices, events, and other outdoor activities, weather conditions are closely monitored. All activity is stopped if/when lightning creates threatening conditions. In the event of a tornado warning, all participants and attendees will be directed to the nearest school's designated shelter area.
While the primary function of district FEMA safe rooms is to protect students and staff members during the school day, the intent has always been to make them available to the public whenever possible. Neighborhood residents and district employees serve as FEMA safe room hosts in the event of a tornado or other severe weather outside of the regular school day. While we can’t make guarantees, every effort is made to ensure the safe rooms are open and available to the public regardless of the time of day.
When severe weather is anticipated, safe room hosts are alerted and prepared to open safe rooms if necessary. District administrators receive regular updates from local Emergency Management and if/when a potential need for shelter arises, safe room hosts are given the OK to open safe rooms. A green flag will be posted at the appropriate entrance to signify a safe room is open. Also, the district's Twitter and Facebook feeds (@ArkCitySchools) are good places to look for status updates.
The following regulations will apply: No pets, except service animals, are allowed in the safe rooms. Drugs, except properly prescribed medications, alcohol, and weapons are also prohibited. The school district is making these areas available as a service to the community and is not responsible for accidents or injuries occurring while the safe rooms are in use by community members. For the protection and safety of all, guests are asked to comply with all requests from FEMA safe room hosts and remain inside the shelters until the severe weather threat has passed.