UNcommon Sense: Spring Weather

by Corey Holland/Superintendent of Marlow Public Schools

March nineteenth marked the official first day of spring this year. Of course, this is Oklahoma so winter may not be on the calendar, but we know the potential for ice and snow remains on the table. With that said, what proved to be a very mild winter now turns our focus to the potential of spring storms. Monday night was the first day we had for potential tornadic weather. Even though we are not fully through the process with FEMA on our safe rooms, the buildings themselves are completed and as such, will be available for use by our students, staff, and community.

As many of you are aware, the construction of the safe rooms at the high school and middle school campus was a collaborative process between local funds through our bond package and federal FEAM funds. Due to this partnership, the district is obligated to follow specific guidelines in the use and availability of the safe rooms. What follows is an overview of the policies and procedures the district must adhere to moving forward and I am hopeful this will answer many of the questions I have received since the start of spring.

WHO: the safe room is available to students, staff and per FEMA guidelines residents or those attending a school activity event who are within (1/2) mile walking distance. The safe rooms have an occupancy limit of over 700 so it is our intent to not turn anyone away just because he/she may reside beyond the (1/2) mile limit.

WHAT: the purpose of the safe rooms is to provide safety for a short time period during a storm event. The purpose is to also meet basic essentials during this time: access to water, restrooms, and a clean environment. The purpose is NOT to provide food, clothing, or housing.

WHEN: the community use of the safe rooms will be available when the National Weather Service issues a "Tornado Watch" or "Tornado Warning". Obviously, due to capacity limitations, if these are declared during school hours, FEMA allows for priority of occupancy for students and staff which could limit availability to some community members during school hours. When a watch or warning ends, the safe rooms must be evacuated.

WHERE: the two safe rooms are located at 510 West Main and 202 South 9th Street in Marlow.

Other policies to keep in mind: weapons, alcohol, tobacco, and vape products are not allowed in the safe rooms. Music devices may be used only with headphones. Pets are not allowed in the safe rooms unless they are confined in an owner provided carrier. Inappropriate language and behavior will not be tolerated. Also, occupants should expect a short delay in getting the safe rooms opened depending on the time a tornado watch or tornado warning is established.

Lastly, I once again want to thank the community for its support in our last bond election. Thanks to you, our students, staff, and community have a safe place to go during times of tornadic weather.

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