Thursday, May 12, 2005

Fire Rant

It started off like any other other morning, nothing to exciting. I got ready for my day and my kids started to arrive, 8:45 the principal starts blowing the fire alarm whistle, I look up from my art project, over to the 3 kids at the computer and say to her as she walks by, your kidding right. Why are we having a fire drill now? I'm not kidding there's a fire is the response. Another teacher hollers at me that there is a fire, I grab the 3 kids and start to leave, then have to go back for my emergency phone list and grab my bag while I am at it, I did not want to leave my passport in a burning school.

I hustle my 3 kids out the door, pick up 2 more who are exiting the elevator and head outside into the rain. We follow the routine and hustle all the kids across the street and in front of the bank. School has just opened and so we only have about 50 of our 100 students. There is some confusion while we sort out what has happened but finally everything is under control, everyone is out and the principal has managed to extinguish the electrical fire ( it was an air condtioner short).

But we can't go back in... so we sit outside in the rain for about 30 minutes well plans are made for what to do next. As phone calls are being made, parents are still dropping off their children. Who in their right mind would leave their child at school when it has been evacuated and all of the staff and kids are sitting outside in the rain! I wouldn't, but our teaching assistants kept on assuring the parents that all was well and parents believed them. I went from 5 kids to 13 while we were sitting on the street. I was annoyed but I was not at the end of the line where the kids were being left so there was little I could say or do.

FINALLY they get it together and we are hustling the 80 odd kids we now have to the school's owners apartment around the corner, in the pouring rain. We get the kids there, in the elevator, up to the 19th floor and into the apartment. Well the owner is the middle of moving ( I won't even begin to tell you about that story) and so her apartment is a pile of 1/2 packed boxes and no furniture. We move the kids around so that each class has space and then attempt to entertain them. Meanwhile the assistants are still accepting children, I get 3 more. So I am sitting in an empty room with 16 children and nothing, I mean nothing to do. We sang every song we know, 5 classes of kids singing different songs at the same time as a little overwhelming. We played every game I could think of and still we were sitting there on the floor 2 hours later. Finally I got nosy and found some paper and pens and so they could draw. That kept them quiet for awhile longer.

Eventually we hear that the school has been cleaned up, deemed safe and we can go back. Go back, I think we should send the kids home, I think we should of sent the kids home 2 hours ago! I think we should not of let their parents drop them off at all! Folks lets get a grip here we are talking about small children. But no we are going back to school even though one classroom is out of commission because the ceiling was on fire, but nope we'll go back and just shuffle those 16 kids around to other spaces.

We get back to the school and start to hear about what happened after we left, like the accountant not calling the fire department when instructed. Instead she need to come down 3 flights of stairs to our floor to see if there really was a fire. Even better there was an assistant who snuck back to the school to see what was happening (she was supposed to be helping me) and when instructed to bring books for the children and she said no, they did not need anything and were fine. Fine, we were pulling our hair out we were so not fine.

It was a long day, kids are traumatized, teachers exhausted and I am amazed at the lack of fire safety found in this country. This year was the 1st year that the school even had fire drills, could imagine evacuating 100 3 to 6 year olds if they had never ever practiced? I can't. The fire department when finally called took 30 minutes to arrive, I mean we are talking about 15 story building and there was no way for us to know if the fire was still smoldering in the ceiling tiles or such. The whole thing was just crazy.

Ok enough ranting, I must sleep. But that damn alarm clock is ringing again, someone below has and alarm that rings all the time, like every 20 minutes and it is starting to drive me a little crazy, especially at 2 am.


Beth said...

Hey Justine - you're right - that's insane that they didn't send the kids home and stop letting parents drop off. As a parent, had I arrived at school and seen that, I would NOT have left my child. What an adventure you had. And you thought things were going to be calm and quiet until you came home? HA!

Renata (former SP4) said...

That sounds positively awful! I'm glad that you made it through the day without spontaneously combusting. We had to do a lockdown at my school to emulate a dangerous and armed person on campus, so about 40 of us were in a 20ft x 20ft basement in the dark for about an hour with no ventilation.

Kimberli said...

Justine - YUCK!
Glad you just plugged thru and REALLY GLAD they'd had a fire drill (one!) to practice! I'd hate to think what COULD have happened! See you next week girl!!!
Yeah! See - happy things ahead!

Michele said...

What a horrible day, J. Hope you're having a much better one today! Or is that tomorrow where you are?! hehehe

Hope you get in some relaxing and peaceful knitting to take the edge off!