What schools do when severe weather moves in while transporting students

Aug. 24, 2016, was a day East Allen County Schools remembers well. They had a school bus on the road in Woodburn as an EF-3 tornado moved through the area. The district says as they move into spring, their reviewing their safety plans with bus drivers.

Posted: Mar 16, 2020 8:38 PM
Updated: Mar 17, 2020 12:21 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - It's dismissal time and your student is getting on the bus to go home, you know there's the chance for severe weather, but you don't know when.

All of a sudden, phones are going off and sirens are blaring, there's a tornado heading toward your child's bus.

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It may sound far-fetched, but it's something East Allen County Schools had to deal with when an EF-3 tornado moved through Woodburn in August of 2016. Storm chaser Michael Enfield was the first to call in the storm.

"When I got to Doty and Ricker Road, I saw this very profound wall cloud with actually two funnels actually hanging down from it," Enfiled explained. "At that point I knew something big was about to sit down. I continued to observe it and eventually saw the tornado touchdown on the ground."

EACS Transportation Director David Myers was on the road that day when he heard the NWS issue a tornado warning for an area where one of his school buses were.

"I was able to communicate with the driver, the driver to the building principal, and then I was also able to communicate with my lead technician, so we were able to react to get our bus driver to a safe location," Myers said.

It may not be something parents think about, but districts have to think about safety at all times.

They have a plan in place and it was put to the test on Aug. 24, 2016.

Myers said, "Well what the bus drivers actually have to do, they know their routes better that we do. They've got locations they can go to, whether it's going to be into a church location. That particular day we were still close to the school, so we stayed at the school."

East Allen has steps to take for most situations but knows they can't safely cover every severe weather situation, like if your child is standing at the bus stop in the morning.

"Unfortunately when you get into that, it's a bad scenario that we've never encountered, thank goodness, but then we're going to rely on our parents, that the bus will not go into a spot that we are going to put our entire busload into danger," Myers explained.

So while school districts are working to keep your kids safe during severe weather, it's important for you to plan for those situations as well.

Make sure to formulate a plan for if severe weather impacts you.

Make sure you know the difference between a watch and a warning and know where your severe weather safespot is.

Stay tuned to FOX 55 both on-air and online for more severe weather safety information.

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