MDPS Command Center Holds Hurricane Emergency Drill

School starts in less than a week, and officials with Miami-Dade County Public Schools said they're prepared to weather any storm.

It's been ten years since Hurricane Wilma slammed South Florida.

"We know for a fact this is not a matter of whether or not one will come. The question is when will it come," said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

So preparation is critical, which is why, with Tropical Storm Danny still far away, the Miami-Dade School's Emergency Command Center held a drill. They simulated a crisis in which schools had been closed, realizing that opening them back up as soon as possible is vital to everyone.

First, each school has to be checked for damage.

"Until schools reopen, the community is at a standstill. Parents may not be able to go to work, so it's crucial to do that," Carvalho said.

This year, in the aftermath of a storm, when communication might be difficult, with power lines down, assuming cellphones are working, principals will use a special app so they can report the damage assessment of their schools back to the district and whether that school can reopen.

"During a storm, we want to make sure our students are engaged. There are resources posted on our website and they will be able to be printed or downloaded to use during a storm to make sure students don't lose critical instructional time," said Jaime Torrens, chief facilities officer.

What about the decision to close schools in the first place?

"If we cannot transport children, if the buses cannot roll safely, we cannot open schools," Carvalho said.

If the sustained winds are over 39 miles an hour, much less than hurricane strength, school buses can't go.

Let's just hope this command center doesn't have to be activated this year.

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