Grove Public School officials, along with area first responders, will take part in a district-wide emergency drill on Thursday, March 29.

The drill, explained Grove Superintendent Sandy Coaly, is designed to test the reaction of school officials in the event of an emergency at one or more of the district's campuses.

In this event, Coaly said, third graders from Grove Lower Elementary, and fourth, fifth and sixth graders from Grove Upper Elementary, will take an active part in the drill.

During the event, third thru sixth graders will be evacuated from the buildings, while first and second graders will "shelter in place."

Coaly said students at Grove Middle and High Schools will also "shelter in place."

"We've never tried to evacuate the smaller or lower grades," Coaly said, adding Thursday's drill will involve approximately 170 third graders and 550 fourth, fifth and sixth graders. "The drill will primarily focus on the evacuation of students."

Coaly said the students will be evacuated from the campus via buses. They will only ride on the buses for a short amount of time before returning to the respective campuses.

In a letter sent home to parents, Coaly asked that students be allowed to participate in the drill, so school officials "might be able to obtain a more complete picture of any challenges that might occur in the event of an actual event."

"Our challenge for this drill will be the fact that we need to bus children off campus and finding drivers during the day might be difficult," Coaly wrote to parents. 

A few select students, already determined and with parental permission, will have a larger role in the incident.

Coaly asked that parents and others refrain from coming to the west campus before 2:30 p.m., on Thursday. 

"Yes there will be sirens and flashing lights during the drill," Coaly wrote to parents. "Be secure in knowing that the safety of your children is the number one priority at Grove Public Schools.

"Practice is necessary to make sure we are as prepared as possible in case we ever need the skills learned during this practice."

This is the third drill since 2013 school officials and first responders have conducted involving Grove Public Schools.

In 2014, the drill involved a suspicious package being found at the lower elementary. 

Why complete a drill?

Grove Police Chief Mark Morris said the drill will include members of the Grove Police Department, as well as those from Grove Fire, Delaware County Emergency Management and Grove Emergency Medical Services. 

Morris stressed the drill will not "be an active shooter scenario," or "an explosive scenario," adding that any active shooter drills would take place when school was not in session.

"The drill is designed to in nature to force a partial or complete evacuation of children and adults from the affected area," Morris said, adding the drill will take place between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.

Morris asked parents, and area residents to refrain from coming to the west campus on Thursday. He said all streets around the campus will be blocked during the drill by emergency personnel. 

"We hope to never have to respond to the school for a large scale emergency," Morris said. "But we need to be trained, and be prepared in the event we do."

Morris said Thursday's drill will give first responders a chance to test how to respond to campus, with everything from traffic issues to student safety being tested.

Informing parents

In addition to letters, being sent home on Monday to students throughout the district, Coaly planned to send out two "all-call" reminders on Tuesday and Wednesday. She also planned to use local media, including The Grove Sun, to update parents regarding the drill.

On the day of the drill, members of The Grove Sun team will post updates - from start to finish - to the newspaper's Facebook page @GroveSun, just as if it was a real, breaking news event. 

Coaly asked parents or others with questions contact the administrative office at 918-786-3003 before Thursday morning.