HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A new state law is changing the language for emergency operations at Alabama schools.
WAFF 48 reached out to representatives from Madison County Schools and Huntsville City Schools and confirmed both systems are on “Heightened Awareness” August 12 through August 17 because of excessive heat.
In an email to faculty, Madison County Deputy Superintendent Dr. Mark Minskey said, “Our Schools will take extra precautions to ensure the safety of our students by limiting outdoor activities and keeping students hydrated. Our middle and high schools will be utilizing the Alabama High School Athletic Association guidelines for outdoor heat for all our students involved in any extracurricular activities, such as sports, band, etc.”
This new language all comes from a house bill made into law this past legislative session that reworks school safety plans, now called emergency operations plans.
The law even changes the traditional “code red” drill to a “Lockdown".
Heightened awareness is just the first step, this level mostly deals with possible severe weather, like the heat the Tennessee Valley has seen on Monday and Tuesday. Essentially, it means the possibility of a threat does exist, so everyone should be more aware.
The next levels are “Secure your area of responsibility”, “Secure perimeter” and “Lockdown”, these are used as possible dangers to students and staff escalate.
“Secure your area of responsibility” means a specific incident has occurred and school staff need to secure their area to try and prevent another incident from happening.
"Secure perimeter" is when there is a threat or danger to the community and people need to be made aware.
Lastly, “Lockdown” means there is immediate danger and people need to take immediate action to be as safe as possible.
The bill also requires the board of education for each school system to develop an emergency operations plan tailored to fit each school in their system.