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Schools are practicing tornado drills

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LAWTON, Okla._Schools in southwest Oklahoma are also making sure their students and teachers stay safe by reminding them what to do in case of a tornado warning.

Safety is the number one priority for all schools. Whether or not schools have shelters, they all have tornado drills to make sure students know where to go and that teachers know how to account for every child.

Empire Public Schools finished building their safe room last October. Superintendent, Vicki Davison says she's relieved the room was finished in plenty of time for severe weather season.

"We had already previously done a tornado drill in March but we did another one yesterday because we wanted the procedures to be fresh on the students' minds and our teachers' minds and how we would account for everyone," said Davison.

Davison says it took only six minutes for all the students to get inside of the shelter. The shelter can hold every person in the Empire community. Before the room was built, they had a cellar that was only big enough to hold the elementary students.

"I never, ever wanted to have to explain to a parent why we couldn't keep a seventh grader or eighth grader safe at this school," said Davison.

Not all of the Lawton schools have storm shelters, but they have found the safest places for students to go. Pioneer Park had a tornado drill and they all went to their safe places in under four minutes.

"I think we have a plan that will keep most of our kids safe. You know, you can never say I'm going to keep all of your kid's safe if the building blew to the ground. But I am confident and I think my parents are confident," said Sally Greenlee, Pioneer Park Principal.

Greenlee says if they were to seek shelter, teachers know how to keep the kids calm by reading to them or singing with them.

"You do whatever you can to elevate their tension because if we are calm, our kids will be calm," explained Greenlee.

The safe room at Empire is open to the public 24-hours a day if the community ever needs to use it.

"We're very thankful to have it and the people in the empire community are very happy to know that their kids are safe," said Davison.

Both Lawton and Empire schools said if there were to be a tornado warning close to the end of the school day, they wouldn't run the buses. The students would continue to seek shelter until they were given the all clear.

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