School to resume outdoor activities while king cobra still on loose

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Officials with Clarcona Elementary School will soon resume letting children outside for recess despite an 8-foot king cobra that's been missing in the area since Thursday.

The non-native, venomous snake escaped from owner Mike Kennedy's home on the 4800 block of North Apopka Vineland Road, which is used as a rescue facility for exotic animals.

School officials said they've cut the grass shorter and searched all of the portables as they prepare to resume outdoor activities.


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Principal Rob Strenth even sent a robocall out to parents, letting them know their children's safety is the school's No. 1 priority.

"I want to make sure that all efforts have been made to keep our students safe when we return outside," he said. "I personally inspected each portable today by crawling underneath them and found no evidence of a snake or any other animals residing under our portables."

The school has been taking precautions by keeping students indoors and moving some of the portable classrooms to the main building.

Strenth said students will watch a snake safety video, and faculty members have reviewed safety procedures. Changes have also been made to school grounds.

"Tree trimming and bush trimming is scheduled to be completed this weekend. In addition, our grass will be cut each week now," Strenth said.

The principal also said the animal trapper the district hired will return to check the campus again.

While herpetologists have told Channel 9 the chances of the cobra making to the school are extremely low and a snake biting someone at the school even lower, school officials are still being cautious.

Some parents said they're still concerned about the snake, but grandfather Tom Mazzoli said he doesn't have a problem with outdoor activities resuming.

"I really don't. It's kind of an open field," he said. "I guess if the children stay away from things like bushes and along the fence and things like that."

Kennedy has since been fined $366 after authorities said he admitted to waiting 24 hours to report the escape, but officials wouldn't tell Channel 9 whether his license to have the snakes would be taken away.