After hearing about video footage that showed the destruction left over from the tornado that struck Joplin High School May 22, 2011, New Haven school officials are changing the way they conduct their tornado drills.
Kyle Kruse, New Haven superintendent, told The Missourian that from now on during tornado drills, students and staff will go to restrooms located at interior parts of the buildings or locker rooms in the gymnasium, which is partially underground.
Those rooms are safer than the hallways, which were used by the schools previously, he said.
“We want to avoid having people in our hallways,” Kruse said.
The recommendation to change came after Kruse contacted a risk analysis expert with the district’s insurance provider.
Kruse, the risk analysis expert and school maintenance staff, toured the schools one recent morning.
The changes will be reflected in the tornado drill map included in the school’s handbook for next year, the superintendent said.
The new drill has been run at the high school already, but drills at the elementary school were still being worked on, Kruse said.
An email from the school superintendent in Joplin to Kruse referred to Joplin High School’s hallways as “death traps.”
Kruse also read an article in the March 2012 issue of Campus Safety magazine, which encourages schools to review their severe weather emergency preparedness policies.
While the tornado hit Joplin High School on a Sunday, when schools were not in session, hallway cameras captured footage of the tornado.
The article states, “Large debris, from street signs to car bumpers, were effortlessly tossed down the halls by the tornado. In some areas, classroom walls fell into the hallways. Each hallway literally became a wind tunnel.”