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Oklahoma Highlights School Safety

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CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said that neither of the schools hit by the tornado had safe rooms.

FEMA had funded safe rooms for more than 100 schools in the state but these two were not among them. It’s a situation that is among the worst a family could experience. Whether it’s a natural disaster like what happened in Oklahoma, or threats of violence like in Sandy Hook, it’s bringing attention to what schools are doing to keep kids safe.

School officials say tornado risk might be low here in Oregon, but there are plenty of scenarios that do present a threat. Things like earthquakes, snow or ice storms, and violence.

Each school district is responsible for creating their own plan, but officials say many of them follow similar steps. Administrators with central point school district say they plan for two different scenarios: school lockdowns and school evacuations.

Each classroom is equipped with emergency kits that have first aid, flashlights, food, candles, and even playing cards for entertainment. They say teachers are also trained in how to keep kids hidden away from dangerous spots like windows, but they say evacuations are much more difficult.

Things like earthquakes can make buildings unsafe for gathering, and can ruin roads. Plus, with hundreds or even thousands of students, they say it’s hard to keep head counts.

“That’s where it gets a little tricky. When you start evacuating and moving large amounts of people, especially when they have to be reunited with someone else,” said Central Point Middle School Principal David Heart.

Most, if not all, local schools have planning kits with information on disasters. They contain numbers to call, maps, and plans specific to each scenario. Most districts also have liaisons, or school resource officers, assigned from local police.

Schools officials say parents can look to them to provide up-to-date information if a disaster occurs, but they say once the kids are safe and accounted for, they look to set aside a spot for families to reunite.