Carnarvon students prepare for the Big One

Schools & Students

Students across the VSB participated in the Big One at 2 and this year Carnarvon Community Elementary and other VSB schools tested a new model for family reunification.

A 9.0 magnitude earthquake has been predicted to hit the West Coast someday in the not-so-distant future. To prepare students, schools have been practicing earthquake drills for decades.

This year Carnarvon tried out a new procedure for reuniting children with parents. Most VSB schools tested out this system on May 3 this year.

As always during an earthquake students are expected to crawl under their desks and wait for any aftershocks. They are then led to the field where they are gathered into circles with younger students in the middle sheltered by older students for a sense of protection and security.

Meanwhile, teachers set up a station away from the field where they have multiple binders with information forms on each family that the parents filled out at the beginning of the year.

When parents arrive at the scene, they check in and then adult ‘runners’ go and collect their children.

“One of our major goals is to keep anxiety levels down in the children and have them feel as safe as possible,” says Diane Martinson, principal of Carnarvon Community Elementary. “The adult picks them up in a different area, rather than have all the parents on the field at the same time, which can be chaotic.”

Stephanie Heaton is a parent of two Carnarvon students and is new to Canada from England where earthquakes are not a threat. This was her first earthquake drill experience and felt the new procedure went smoothly.

“As a parent it is nice to know that your kids are protected and I thought it was nice that the older kids were there to create a feeling of safety for the younger kids,” says Heaton. “It’s good to be prepared and I felt like today was nice and calm and quiet.”

This was the first run-through of the new earthquake drill and only a few parents were asked to participate. Next year there will be another drill where all parents will fill out the forms at the start of the school year and participate in the reunification drill.

Big One at 2 2018 Carnarvon drill