Sunday, March 9, 2003

Across Ohio, schools prepare for the worst

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - Schools have long prepared students for possible disaster with fire and tornado drills. Now some are adding drills to train for terrorist attacks.

An informal survey by the Cleveland Plain Dealer of more than 24 school districts shows officials are reviewing disaster plans with safety forces, improving communications and stocking up on several days' worth of food and water.

• In Chagrin Falls, custodians are trained to shut off ventilator intakes in the event of an attack.

• Westlake school buildings are equipped with duct tape and plastic sheeting.

• Perry schools are compiling a database of students whose parents have given permission to administer potassium iodide tablets, which stop the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine. The district is home to the Perry nuclear power plant.

A memo on Solon schools' Web site says in the event of a chemical or biological attack in downtown Cleveland, parents returning from work there, and potentially exposed, would be barred from school. Their children would not be allowed to leave buildings until emergency personnel gave the go-ahead.

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