Wichita schools preparing for weather with safe rooms

WICHITA, Kan. — To make sure students and staff are ready for severe weather season, USD 259 is telling parents the districts plan on how they’ll keep their children safe.

The images are chilling of Greensburg’s hallways left in rubble and debris. It was all that was left of the school after the storm.

“I’ll never forget walking through those hallways. Let’s hope we never have to experience that again,” said meteorologist Dave Freeman.

Just to make sure that destruction can be avoided or at least scaled down, Wichita Public Schools are preparing for the worst.

“We do want parents to know that we’ve been monitoring the weather, we do know that there are cases where we might have some hail or other severe storms,” said Susan Arensman, USD 259.

Right now the district has 77 schools with completed safe rooms. Eight schools are under construction until the end of the school year and 13 more are in the works for next year.

All this week parents will receive flyers and they will also receive alerts over the phone to remind them of all the old and some of the new procedures to the safe room.

School officials want to stress to parents, if kids are in the safe room, do not come to the school.

“The main thing is because of the way they’re stretched, we need to close those doors once we get everybody inside,” said Arensman. “Once the kids are inside they are not going to open up the doors to let them out.”

Once the storm passes parents will be notified through several channels including phone alerts and social media when they can come to the school.

“The worst thing you can do is get out in the middle of a storm, it’s best to just wait until it passes,” said Freeman.

Wichita Public Schools are the first in the U.S. to build a safe room storm shelter inside a school. The district also has the largest number of safe rooms of any school district in the country.

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