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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Safe haven: East Side students evacuated after boiler leak

Friday, August 10, 2012

Terry Looper, right, Director of Student Service for Bedford County Shools, tells Sara Wood, principal of East Side Elementary School and with back to camera, that she can take students back into the school. The school was evacuated Thursday morning due to boiler problems. Facing the camera is Tammy Anderson, left, Operations officer with Bedford County Emergency Management and at the right is Jessica Doak, assistant director of Bedford County Emergency Mangement.
(T-G photo by Jim Davis) [Order this photo]
It's not a sound you'd expect to hear in a school building in the middle of August, but the pipes that provide heat to East Side School began to clank and knock Thursday morning, and school administrators quickly evacuated students as a precaution.

"We don't know what caused the boiler to turn on," said Terry Looper, supervisor of student services for the district. "The students were evacuated for safety - [Sara] Wood and the teachers did an excellent job."

East Side students Lalondra Medina and Gabriela Hernandez play patty-cake while waiting to return to class.
(T-G photo by Jim Davis)
Reality check

While the students played cheerfully in the parking lot of nearby First Baptist Church, the school had a real-life opportunity to hold an evacuation drill. Within moments district administrators were on site, as well as officials with Bedford County Emergency Management Agency.

The Murfreesboro company, which is contracted to maintain the school boiler systems, arrived quickly, shutting down the system and giving the all-clear for the students to return once the boiler temperature had returned to a safe level. That crew remained at the school late into the afternoon making sure the system would remain safe for students to return to class this morning.

In all, the students were out of class for about one hour.

Staff praised

East Side Elementary teachers Jennifer Kirby, Renee Crowder and Summer Hardaway lead their students back to the school building Thursday morning after the school had been temporarily evacuated due to problems with the boiler system. Students waited at First Baptist Church until they could return to the building.
(T-G photo by Jim Davis)
Dr. Ray Butrum, superintendent, praised the school staff for their quick thinking and the students for an orderly exit.

Parents were notified of the event via the school's phone message system, which in turn resulted in a flood of calls to the school office. Wood asked that parents listen to the recorded message first before calling. Many parents see the school's number appear on their phone and quickly call the school back without listening to the voice mail.

In addition, Butrum reminds parents system-wide to keep their contact information with the schools current. Wood reported that even some of the phone numbers provided by parents of kindergarten students returned disconnected numbers.

Liberty lockdown

Another county school also had an unexpected drill yesterday, with Liberty School going on a Code White lockdown in response to news of a possible escaped murderer from a halfway house in the area. During a Code White event, exterior doors are locked and any visitor is screened by school personnel.