CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — On March 19, Virginia held its annual statewide tornado drill.
The drill tests the emergency alert system to help residents prepare before severe weather and gives schools the chance to practice what they would do if a tornado warning were issued for their area.
In the main office at Clover Hill Elementary in Chesterfield County, Vice Principal Kayrn Andersen announced the drill on the intercom.
“We need everybody to move to their designated location, make sure that you’re kneeling and crouching with your head closest to the wall to protect the back of your head and neck,” Andersen said, prompting the students to file out of their classrooms.
Students and teachers moved into the hallways, crouching down against the wall and protecting their heads. Silence fills the school as the students remained crouched and quiet for several minutes. Once the all-clear was given, students returned to the classroom to discuss the drill with teachers.
“It was a good reminder for us to know what practices to do and how to keep safe,” said Clover Hill Elementary Principal Allie Strollo. “I know this morning I was thinking about September and the tornadoes that came through less than 2 miles down the road. So, it really hit close to home”.
Students across Central Virginia put their tornado drill training into practice on September 17, 2018, when 10 tornadoes touched down in the Metro Richmond area. Many schools, including Clover Hill, decided to keep students in the building as the storms came through.
“I just remember standing on the bus loop with my assistant principal Miss Andersen and we just kept saying to each other, we didn’t feel right about letting the kids go,” Strollo said. “We had heard reports that there were storms coming and we just decided that it was best to keep our kids safe.”
Parents were notified through messages from Principal Strollo that the students were safe, reading books, eating snacks, doing homework, and playing games until their parents were able to pick them up or the bus finally took them home.
“I feel like we’re pros now, we’ve got this down pat,” Strollo said. “We had quite a few come in very close here and parents that even showed us videos right in the neighborhood across the street. I don’t want anymore to come by, but I know that we are prepared here”.