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Storm Potential Has School Safety Plans On Standby

FAYETTEVILLE -- Drills and safety precautions are in place from the classroom to the school bus.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The potential of severer weather is catching the attention of area school districts.

"We're constantly watching," Alan Wilbourn, communications director for Fayetteville Public Schools says.

Schools are in 'Eye-On-The Sky' mode with potential storms in the forecast, and safety drills are on standby.

"We have tornado drills once a month," Rick Schaeffer, communications director for Springdale Public Schools says.

Those drills stretch from behind the desk, to behind the wheel.

"We run about 57 buses per day about 6,800 kids total per day," Tommy Davenport, transportation director for Fayetteville Public Schools says.

Davenport says if severe weather arrives soon after buses leave, drivers are trained to react .

"Pull over, wait , stop and let it pass," Davenport says.

"We may advise an individual bus to do something or a whole group of buses."

But, if Mother Nature makes its move a little earlier, it could change the entire day for students.

"We had a situation similar to this last year when it hit about 2:45 in the afternoon," Wilbourn says.

"When that occurs, we immediately go into lock down."

Wilbourn says technology allows parents to be in the know with a push of a button.

"We can pinpoint a specific bus and say ' Bus JJ will be late today due to severe weather in the area and we can send that out as a blast text or a phone message,'" Wilbourn says.

"It has an emergency function, which sends it out faster."

Wilbourn adds that in some cases, if it gets bad enough as school lets out, they'll encourage parents to come inside and delay all departures.

"School is the safest place to be," Wilbourn says.

"It's concrete and reinforced steel, I mean it's much stronger than a wood and brick home."

Schaeffer adds: "If it doesn't hit say between 3 and 4 then we're OK we get all our kids home."
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