P.O. BOX 2120



October 10, 2008



Division Superintendents



Patricia I. Wright

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Tornado Preparedness Day, March 17, 2009


On April 28, 2008, 11 tornadoes tore through central and southeastern Virginia during the early afternoon. Tornadoes can occur throughout the state, any time of year, with little or no warning. Tornado preparedness is more important than ever.


This school year, the statewide tornado drill will take place on Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 9:45 a.m. Should severe weather threaten the state on March 17, the tornado drill will be rescheduled for 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, March 18.


The Code of Virginia in 22.1-137.1 requires that all public schools participate in at least one tornado drill per year. Participation in this drill would fulfill that requirement. If this drill date or time is not convenient, schools are welcome to choose an alternative date or time.


The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) supports Tornado Preparedness Day. I encourage your schools to participate actively by educating staff members and students about tornadoes and taking part in the statewide tornado drill.


The school year has begun, so it is imperative that information about the drill be disseminated as soon as possible. Please ensure the drill is included in all school calendars and that school administrators understand how to conduct a drill.


More information about tornado preparedness and a listing of local emergency managers can be found at Your local emergency manager can help to identify your schools' tornado safety areas as well as develop your schools' emergency plans for both natural and human-caused hazards.

We will work closely with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) to disseminate information to schools about Tornado Preparedness Day. VDEM will be sending:


        A letter with links to tornado resources for educators


        Information about the upcoming statewide tornado drill, and


        A website address where you can register each school's participation in the drill.


Entering each school's information will help VDEM show the media and the public the full extent of school participation across the state. Last year, more than 340,000 students, employees and family members participated. With your help, we will be able to show a growing number of schools and students who participate in the drill.


If you have any questions about Tornado Preparedness Day or the statewide drill, please contact:


        Jolie Shank, VDEM public affairs specialist, at(804) 897-6510 or, or


        Jo Ann Burkholder, VDOE safe and drug-free schools program specialist, at (804) 371-7586 or