HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Much of Central Texas is still considered at a high to very high fire danger by the Texas A&M Forest Service.
Fires have burned through hundreds of acres in areas of Kyle, Buda, San Marcos and Cedar Park.
School districts, like Hays CISD, said it is prepared should a fire start near a school.
Hays CISD Head of District Safety Jeri Skrocki said if there’s smoke nearby, they will secure the area.
“We bring everyone inside,” Skrocki said. “We don’t want them being affected by potential contaminants in the air smoke.”
But if there’s a fire that’s approaching a school, Skrocki said they’ll evacuate.
“We get our transportation team or drivers to the location. We have buses strategically placed at both the east side of the county and the west side of the county,” she said. “So in the event any school needs to be evacuated, we deploy those folks.”
She said they’ll load students on the bus and send them to another location.
“It really just depends on the type of emergency where they’re gonna go,” Skrocki said. “Then we start a reunification process, which will include simultaneously notifying their parents.”
It’s a situation Skrocki said the district dealt with last year. She said there was a fire in Kyle that was getting near Hemphill Elementary School and Simon Middle School.
“That was encroaching in the field behind our schools,” she said. “We actually evacuated one of our schools – they sit right next to each other. So we took one school, Simon, we pushed it into Hemphill.”
Skrocki said buses were on standby if they needed to evacuate the area, but luckily the fire got under control.
On the county level, Emergency Planner at the Hays County Office of Emergency Services Laurie Taylor said there’s a standard response protocol all school districts follow.
She described it as “an all hazards approach to teach first responders, teachers and students, the five responses and actions in either a manmade or natural event.”
The five responses are:
Taylor said the response for a fire near a school would depend on the size and location of it.
“If it’s close enough, and the first responders and the school district decides that, ‘Hey, we need to get the kids out,” then we would move to evacuate,” Taylor said.
She said if it is contained and not that close, it might be a shelter in place instead.
“It just depends on the size and the scope,” she said.
Texas State University said it too has a plan in place for a fire.
“In the event of a fire on or near our campuses, we will evacuate according to the threat we are facing following the protocols outlined in our university Emergency Operations Plan and the guidance and recommendations of our first responders. Our protocols address emergency alerts, evacuation plan and escape routes, and sheltering operations during and after the event. Due to the current drought, we are actively monitoring the county and surrounding county conditions for our campuses, and meeting with county fire chiefs regularly to discuss mitigating these and other threats.”Texas State University
What should a parent do?
Taylor said the school district will be a parent’s number one point of contact, in the case of an emergency.
“The school district is going to communicate exactly what’s going on, what they need to do, where they need to go,” Taylor said.
While the natural inclination is to go to the school, Taylor warns against that.
“What that’s going to do is create more congestion, and more traffic and more issues for first responders to get in and do their job,” Taylor said.
Taylor said they train with school districts every year on these kind of emergencies. She said they are prepared if anything were to happen.
“They have a plan. They work the plan,” Taylor said. “The best thing they can do is just wait for the communication from the school, and to go and do what they need to do from there.”