RIPON, Wis. (CBS Local) — An elementary school in Wisconsin went ahead with its monthly fire drill on Tuesday despite subzero temperatures and some parents wanted to know why.
“As parents, we entrust schools to put our kids safety number one,” Vince King, the parent of a kindergartener at Barlow Elementary School in Ripon, told WLUK. “I just feel as though that wasn’t met.”
“We’re sending children, age 5-8 out in this stuff and whether it was 10 seconds or 10 minutes, it’s still not okay,” said Stephanie Neuman, the parent of a second grader at the school.
Parents said they were outraged their kids were back out in the bitter elements just moments after they got to school.
“Immediately, I wanted to speak to the principal,” Neuman said. “Basically, I just wanted an explanation why, of all days, why?”
Wisconsin state law says all schools must conduct a monthly fire drill, but there is an exemption “in the case of inclement weather,” said state Rep. Joan Ballweg, a Republican from Markesan.
Barlow Park Elementary School Principal Tanya Sanderfoot declined to speak on camera, but issued a statement.
“Teachers were notified this morning prior to the start of school to have their kids remain bundled up in their winter clothes at arrival so they were prepared for a very quick fire drill,” she wrote.
“Being a relatively new principal, I was not aware of the statute that provides an exemption from monthly fire drills due to inclement weather so was concerned with being compliant for our monthly fire drill. I am now aware of the exemption and hope this helps all principals be aware that there is an exemption. I did receive some calls from parents and sent out a message right away so they would know all students had full winter clothing on for the drill and that I wish I would have cancelled the planned drill.”
King said he’s “hoping that by sharing this story, all the districts that maybe weren’t aware of this exemption — having drills in cold weather — are now made aware of it, so they don’t put kids in these elements again.”