Mississippi schools prepare for severe weather potential - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi schools prepare for severe weather potential

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Director Colonel Lee Smithson agrees that schools are often times the safest spot for those kids. Source: WLBT Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Director Colonel Lee Smithson agrees that schools are often times the safest spot for those kids. Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

February is shaping up to be a historic month for tornadoes in Mississippi. 

Fourteen tornadoes have hit the state so far. When the sirens sound, students are sent to the hallways of schools.

The Department of Education says that state statute requires districts to have a policy that gives superintendents the authority to make decisions about school closures, in the absence of a declaration emergency by the Governor. 

"If we make an error it's always on the side of caution as far as student safety is concerned," said Clinton Superintendent Dr. Phil Burchfield.

Burchfield said there are a lot of variables to consider when you talk about tornado threats.

"They're a lot safer in the building are they on the school bus," noted Burchfield. "So when there are tornado warnings out, we're in the hallway and pretty much mandate that they stay in the hallways until that is lifted."

The other thing schools run into is parents wanting to check their kids out and take them home.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Director Colonel Lee Smithson agrees that schools are often times the safest spot for those kids.

"The worst thing you can do is when the sirens are going off this try to get out to get your child out of school," said Smithson. "Because now, you're jeopardizing the child. You're jeopardizing the staff of the school who's trying to accommodate you. And you're taking unnecessary risks, too."

Smithson noted the districts do have some flexibility for making judgment calls.

"In Mississippi, if you get two thirds of the day that counts of the full day," added Smithson. "So that's what were encouraging schools to do is try to get the full day don't take on the risk. Schools need to be dismissed early, we encourage them to do that."

A handful of districts did have early dismissal during last week's round of storms. But Wesson Attendance Center is an example of a school that was hit and no students were injured.

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