Superintendent's Memo #318-09

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

November 20, 2009

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: March 16, 2010 Statewide Tornado Drill

Last year, thirty-nine tornadoes touched down in Virginia communities. This represents the second highest number of tornadoes ever recorded in a single year. The tornadoes hit every part of Virginia in every month of the year, at varying times of the day and night. It is important for all school divisions to be prepared in the event a tornado occurs during the school day. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) encourages school divisions to participate in “Tornado Preparedness Day” sponsored by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM).

The statewide “Tornado Preparedness Day” drill will take place on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, at 9:45 a.m. If severe weather threatens the state on that date, then the tornado drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 17, at 9:45 a.m. The Code of Virginia in § 22.1-137.1 requires all public schools to participate in at least one tornado drill per year. Participation in the March 16 statewide tornado drill will fulfill that requirement. Schools may choose an alternate date or time if this is not convenient.

Information about tornado preparedness and a listing of local emergency managers is available at Local county, city or town emergency managers can help schools identify tornado safety areas as well as develop emergency plans for both natural and human-caused emergencies. In addition, the VDEM will provide school divisions information about “Tornado Preparedness Day.” Watch for these items:

Each year VDEM presents information to the media and the public on the full extent of school participation in “Tornado Preparedness Day.” Last year, the statewide drill was the most successful ever held in Virginia. More than 446,000 students, employees and family members from across Virginia participated. Please encourage principals to register school information so that an accurate account of participants will be noted in the statewide count for the day. Registration for the day is online at VDEM website at the following link:

If you have any questions about “Tornado Preparedness Day” or the statewide drill, please call or e-mail:
Laura Southard, VDEM public outreach coordinator, (804) 897-6510 or
Jo Ann Burkholder, VDOE Safe and Drug-Free Schools Programs coordinator, (804) 371-7586 or .