The recent tornado in Moore has spurred Duncan citizens and Duncan Public Schools to take action to better protect children at school.
During Tuesday’s regular meeting, the Duncan Board of Education approved a $100,000 fundraiser for the Cover Our Kids Campaign. Through this campaign, helmets and blankets would be purchased for every child, teacher and staff member in Duncan Schools to use during a tornado.
Patty Wininger, emergency preparedness director for Duncan Regional Hospital, said a group of DPS staff and administrators, parents, and other citizens teamed up to find the best way to help diminish injuries to Duncan children if a school were to be hit by a tornado.
“What are the steps you can take to mitigate or less those effects?” Wininger said.
This is where the blankets and helmets come into play. She said each classroom at the school would have enough helmets for everyone in the classroom with some left over.
The helmets are aimed at protecting the students’ heads, especially since 9 to 11 percent of tornado injuries are brain injuries.
Superintendent Sherry Labyer said the fundraising would basically invite people to adopt children to make sure a helmet is available for every child. But instead of having people buy helmets and blankets, the school is looking for funds to ensure the helmets and blankets are standardized, everyone gets the same thing.
Wininger said the items would be purchased in bulk, and it’s estimated to cost between $75,000 and $100,000 to make sure every student and teacher is covered.
In the Duncan School District, there are around 4,000 children.
“If it’s one more thing to help them, we think it worth it,” Wininger said.
The school district has taken other measures to ensure children are kept safe during tornados.
Each school has determined the best safe rooms and locations for each classroom. And every teacher has an emergency backpack, which includes an up-to-date roster of the classroom students.
Wininger said measures like these will help if a disaster strikes a school in Duncan.
“This school system put safety at the top of its list,” she said.
Labyer said it’s important for the school district to be able to not only buy enough helmets and blankets for the children and teachers in each classroom but to have extra because children aren’t always in their classrooms.
She said, if a tornado strikes, some students could be in other classrooms, or they could be rotating through music and PE. Wherever they are, she said the school district wants to make sure everyone, including visitors, are protected.
Additionally, Labyer said it’s important to get the ball rolling on this campaign now because tornado season usually runs from the end of March into September.
“We want to get them before the tornado season next year,” Labyer said.