Emergency Protocol

Nicole Mullen, Reporter

The natural disasters that have recently ravaged the United States have evoked questions regarding the Ashland School District (ASD) policies on smoke, wildfires, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.

The protocol for natural disasters in ASD is determined on a case by case basis. Each school in ASD follows the “Emergency Procedures and Disaster Plans” which mandate that in the event of an emergency, including natural disaster, the superintendent and school administrators will develop a plan of action in tandem with community and county agencies. Because ASD consists of over 675,000 square feet of building on over 100 acres of land, each school has unique natural disaster protocols and evacuation sites, making unique school plans essential.

Natural disasters like earthquakes are a present danger to ASD. According to Ashland School Board (ASB) member Jim Westrick, the infrastructure and earthquake durability of Ashland schools is a “high priority” that ASB is actively pursuing with bonds. The school district’s Capital Construction Policy specifies that ASB may float a bond to “build or renovate school buildings,” should the need arise.

At AHS, principal Erika Bare and safety coordinator Karl Kemper use guidance from the superintendent to determine specific natural disaster protocol for AHS. Because each natural disaster is unique, the safety policies differ substantially depending on the disaster. Bare wanted to stress that for all natural disasters “we have procedures in place,” including efforts to contact all parents or guardians and keep them informed throughout an emergency. ASD will also work closely with emergency personnel if need be.

Specific natural disaster protocol was implemented in regards to the recent fires and smoke. AHS followed updated Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) rules that mandated “contests and/or practices shall be canceled or moved indoors in areas that have an [Air Quality Index] AQI in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range (orange level).”  In addition to these measures, AHS distributed masks and advised all students to stay indoors when the air quality was rated as “hazardous.”