Michigan schools improve drills based on severe weather across the U.S.

    MATTAWAN, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - With so many scenes of devastation from recent hurricanes and severe weather, some West Michigan schools say they’re ready to protect students more than ever.

    The Newschannel 3 I-Team is learning that over the past few years, many schools in West Michigan have been tweaking tornado and severe weather drills, seeking to improve them based on the experience of other states dealing with severe weather events.

    “The biggest misconception is that it can’t happen here,” said Mark Rollandini, a principal at Dix Street Elementary in Otsego.

    Rollandini has been principal at the school for 8 years, and says tornadoes in both Oklahoma and Missouri have provided perspective for how Michigan should prepare for protecting students in the event of tornados or other severe weather elements.

    In Oklahoma in particular, some students have died in school buildings during tornadoes.

    “Missouri and Oklahoma one of the things we learned from looking at that was the projectiles flying up and down the halls,” he said, noting that Dix Street Elementary has safe rooms used by students, instead of hallways.

    Over at Mattawan Later Elementary school, Principal Carrie Wendell also echoed the sentiments that the simple “hallway tornado drills” are a thing of the past.

    “We have safety areas and we’ve ensured those areas don’t have windows or breakable items,” she said. “If something were to happen, everybody already knows where to go and what to do.”

    For more information on tornado, fire, and lockdown safety drills in Michigan schools, visit this website of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

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