Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Thursday Craziness

So last Thursday was a very eventful day. It was about 9:30am, just after 1st period. I was waiting for the German teacher to arrive to teach my students. All of a sudden we are told over the loudspeaker to evacuate immediately. NOT a test. So we hastily and hurriedly get the kids outside in front of the school, right into the developing storm that battered Europe last week. Pouring rain and wind as we stood outside, waiting to hear what had happened.

It turns out someone released a toxic gas into the part of the building we share with the vocational school. They did not (and still do not) know exactly what kind of gas it was, but people were taken to the hospital.

Obviously we could not go back into the school, and we had to wait with the students until they were picked up by parents (many of whom had heard incorrect reports that there had been an explosion at the school). So all the 1st grade (about 55 students) were herded into one of the separate 'self-contained' classrooms where the kindergarten is located. (Other students were sent to the art room & library and sports hall, all separate from the main building.) And there we waited for 5 hours. All this time the wind was picking up, and there were fears that they were going to close the bridges that span the Rhine because the storm was predicted to worsen, and then all those who live in D'dorf would not have been able to get home. (At this point, all public schools in our area had been closed and students sent home; indeed I believe that schools across Germany were similarly closed.)

When we did finally make it out of there, we saw how extensive the police and fire presence was outside the school. Streets surrounding the school were closed off, and in order to gain access, you had to pass through checkpoints. Luckily we were able to recover on Friday - school was closed again because the police were stil conducting their investigation.

I think I am done with emergency evacuations. Three in one lifetime is enough.