OVER THE TOP? It’s Drill After Drill at Boca Area Elementary School

News Palm Beach County Schools

At Whispering Pines Elementary School, It’s 4 Drills In Seven Days

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — In the past 7 days, students at Whispering Pines Elementary School have dealt with preparations for Hurricane Dorian, a tornado drill inexplicably held the day after they returned from Hurricane Dorian, a fire drill, a false fire alarm on Thursday followed by a code red drill today.

Even by 2019 standards, that’s a lot.

Barbara Riemer — principal of Whispering Pines — is behind the drills. It’s unclear why she would call for a code red drill the day after a false alarm. The school district provided policy which suggests there’s a rush to get the drills completed at Whispering Pines:

  1. Fire and emergency drills shall be in compliance, as applicable, with the requirements of National Fire Protection Association, Inc. (NFPA) 101 Life Safety Code Sections 4.7 (Fire Drills), 14.7.2 (Emergency Egress and Relocation Drills for New Educational Occupancies), and 15.7.2 (Emergency Egress and Relocation Drills for Existing Educational Occupancies).
  2. A total of ten (10) fire drills (shall be conducted each school year for each school center. Two (2) of these fire drills must be held during the first thirty (30) days of the school term.
  3. Two (2) tornado drills are required annually for each school center. One drill should be scheduled during the month of September and the second drill should coincide with the annual tornado drill conducted by Emergency Management. School Police will issue a Bulletin with the date for the second tornado drill.
  4. All school centers and support facilities are required to conduct Code Red (lock-down) and Code White/Blue (evacuation) drills once each semester. Semester One drills must be held prior to October 31st of each year and Semester Two drills must be held in the month of January of each year.

Here is the message she sent via robocall Friday afternoon.

“Good evening parents and guardians, today we conducted a code red drill.  Today’s drill was a learning experience in what to do should we need lock the campus down for safety.  The faculty, staff, and students did an amazing job following directions during both drills. We will be conducting safety drills throughout the school year. Parents and guardians will receive notification of these drills after they are conducted.  Please make sure that we have the most up to date phone numbers and emails in order to communicate this information with you. Thank you and have a great evening.”

If each drill requires roughly 30 minutes of class time, students have spent at least two hours in the past week dealing with drills and alarms — and that doesn’t include the emotional stress caused by the drills.


Paul Saperstein


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