Recent rise in earthquakes causes concern

Eris Rindt, Reporter

Newton and the surrounding area recently felt a string of earthquakes. In the week of Dec. 9 to Dec. 16 there were a total of four different earthquakes in the area according to Earthquake Tracker. The Wichita Eagle said there are two different culprits that might be causing the recent earthquakes to occur: fracking for oil and gas or aftershocks from natural earthquakes.

Other Kansas schools, such as Emporia’s school district, implemented earthquake drills for students to practice ways to stay safe during higher magnitude earthquakes during the 2020-21 school year. Kansas schools are required to do nine safety drills a school year according to the office of the State Fire Marshal. Usual drills that Kansas schools are required to do are tornado, fire and ALICE drills.

“KSDE/State Fire Marshal issues a plan for all school districts to follow regarding the number of required drills,” Vice Principal Gregory Dietz said. “There is an administrator in each building that plans/organizes the drills.”

Staff faculty have no say in what drills are being practiced but they are required to have students practice the necessary drills. Counselor Danna Gordon said she thinks students should be more informed about earthquakes. 

“I don’t think it would hurt to have students be aware of what to expect when there is an earthquake. Maybe it would be something teachers could cover with staff and students every semester,” Gordon said. “[But] I think there is always a concern that it will impact instruction time for teachers. It always takes awhile to do the drill, debrief, then get students back on track.”

In the past 30 days, Harvey County has experienced eight earthquakes with a magnitude of around 2.0 or 3.0, according to Volcano Discovery. Science teacher Duane Knoll said he does not see the significance of having earthquake drills in Kansas. 

“The level of the earthquakes is not enough to cause damage to buildings in our area. Without any significant danger of damage to structures or injury to individuals, earthquake drills would serve no constructive purpose,” Knoll said. “They may also provide undo stress and concern to students, especially younger students, if they are done on a regular basis in schools.”