OKCPS Severe Weather Procedures
The superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools is authorized by the Board of Education to close public schools in case of severe weather. Communications will notify local news media when the potential for severe weather is determined to warrant such action. The information will be distributed to stakeholders via local media, district website, social media pages and through OKCPS phone calls/text message to parents and staff.
Decision to Close Schools Due to Severe Weather
A decision to cancel school is made when forecasts by the National Weather Service and other available reputable sources indicate a significant tornado outbreak or dangerously high winds that would impact all or any part of the school district. A decision about the school day will be made by 5:30 am. The OKCPS Communication Tree will be activated and OKCPS Communications will deliver the message in English and Spanish to media, parents, staff and the community.
Early Dismissal Due to Severe Weather
Every attempt will be made to avoid dismissing students early due to severe weather. In some instances closing school during the day is inevitable if children are to safely return home before the initial aspects of a major storm impact the area. In these rare cases as much advance notice as possible will be given to parents/staff. If school is closed early during the day, OKCPS Communications will notify all parents, staff, students via local media, phone/text messages, social media channels and okcps.org. Children who are not or cannot be picked up will be held at the school and sheltered in place if circumstances dictate.
Safety Procedures/Precautions During the School Day
Oklahoma weather has a history of sudden changes and unpredictability. Consequently, areas of best available refuge have been identified in any district buildings that do not have specifically engineered shelter areas. Regular drills are conducted by district staff and students on how get into these areas of refuge and shelter areas and to constantly evaluate and improve our procedures.
The following procedures apply to all school buildings within the Oklahoma City Public School District:
- When a tornado or severe thunderstorm WATCH (weather conditions are conducive for the event to occur) is issued, the District will continue normal activities but move all outdoor activities indoors.
- A TORNADO WARNING (which means that a tornado has either been sighted or considered to be imminent in the warned area), students will remain in school, along with staff in pre-designated shelter/refuge areas, until the warning has been canceled.
- A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING (which means that severe weather has been observed or is considered imminent in the warned areas), students will remain in school with staff. If conditions become sufficiently severe as to create a concern for safety, building principals may direct students and staff to pre-designated tornado shelter/refuge areas until the warning has been canceled.
- Parents are strongly encouraged not to attempt to pick up their children during a Tornado warning. In addition to the increased risk associated with traveling during severe weather, students and staff will be in shelter/refuge areas and all external doors will be secured. It may be difficult or impossible for staff to recognize that a parent is outside the school building.
Safety Procedures/Precautions For After-School or Evening Activities
- When a tornado or severe thunderstorm WATCH (weather conditions are conducive for the event to occur) is issued, District leadership will monitor weather conditions to determine a plan for evening activities.
- If a severe thunderstorm WARNING (which means that severe weather has been observed or is considered imminent in the warned areas) is issued prior to or during any outdoor after school activity involving students, the activity shall be canceled. Indoor activities shall continue as scheduled.
- If a tornado WARNING (which means that a tornado has either been sighted or considered to be imminent in the warned area), is issued prior to any after-school activity involving students, the activity shall be canceled immediately. In the event of a tornado warning, all people on the premises will be directed to take shelter in pre-designated shelter areas.
- EMERGENCY DISMISSALS can occur due to mechanical and/or power failure caused by inclement weather.
- If school is closed due to any form of inclement weather, student activities may be canceled. "ALL EVENING ACTIVITIES CANCELLED notice will be posted on local media channels and OKCPS Communications will inform parents and staff via email, okcps.org, social media channels and or phone messages to families. NO ANNOUNCEMENT will indicate that the activity will continue as scheduled.