Weather system to aid student safety in Smithville schools

The wet-bulb globe thermometer system features a high-decibel alert and strobe light when weather conditions are unsafe for students. It will be installed on top of the Smithville School District’s central office and covers the entire range of the school complex campus.

SMITHVILLE — As a new way to keep student-athletes safe on the field, Smithville School District Athletic Department purchased a wet-bulb globe thermometer and weather monitoring and alerting system by Earth Networks, to be installed on top of Smithville District Office, 655 S. Commercial Ave.

Wet-bulb globe thermometers measure live time temperature, humidity and wind speed. The monitoring system then tabulates that information to determine the impact of each aspect and what the “feel temperature” is outside. Those measures will be used by district personnel to determine if conditions are safe or unsafe for students outdoors.

“A 90 degree day, but with 15- to 20-mile-per-hour winds with minimal humidity might not be terrible,” Athletic Trainer Gini Fite told board members Wednesday, July 17. “But it can still be 85 degrees, have 70% humidity and no wind. That is going to feel hotter. The days of just looking at the heat index are over.”

The weather monitoring system will be a complement to other safety measures and standards the school district employs, said Fite. Other safety measures include having a full-time athletic trainer, being deemed a National Athletic Training Association Safe Sports School First Class, having safety training for all its coaches, implementing emergency action plans and having policies and procedures in compliance with Missouri State High School Activities Association.

Assistant Superintendent of Support Services Wayne Krueger said the monitoring system purchase is to keep the district in alignment with a new MSHSAA standard.

“MSHSAA has now mandated that you have some kind of monitoring, on an approved device, for measuring wet-bulb globe thermometer temperature,” Fite added.

Being able to measure wet-bulb globe thermometer temperatures is one of several features the system has. According to supporting documents, this package includes real-time storm tracking, public weather display, equipment maintenance, customized mobile alerts, communication with weather stations, localized weather forecasts, live lightning detection and 24-hour access to meteorologists for events.

Being linked to a smart phone app, those who have access will get weather alerts to their phone and can rework practices and activity schedules to avoid high-risk times.

Additionally, during games or practices when conditions become dangerous outside, the system sounds a 15-second, high-decibel outdoor alert and strobe light, covering the entire range of the school complex campus on Commercial Avenue and all its outdoor fields.

Alert times can be customized not to make noise between certain hours, as not to wake neighbors in the night. During activities, when conditions improve, the system sounds three, five-second bursts, welcoming students back on the field.

Fite said as the system hasn’t been installed yet, and that there will be time dedicated to educating people who visit the campus including sport officials, neighbors and anyone else using the outdoor facilities. In addition, parents and guardians off site will have access to system information through a link provided on the district website so they can monitor weather conditions while their students are on campus.

The system will be ready for use at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

Northwest Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at sean.roberts@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6606.​

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