Parents Face Tough Choice When Tornadoes Bear Down

May 22, 2013

Parents in a suburban Oklahoma City school district received a text message as an ominous tornado approached. Their children were being held at school until the storm passed or their parents picked them up.

Suddenly, parents had a gut-wrenching choice. Trust the safety of the school? Or drive frantically ahead of a massive tornado and attempt to take their children home?

Several students who remained at Plaza Towers Elementary School died when the tornado hit Monday. Yet all of the students at Briarwood Elementary apparently emerged alive from the rubble.

Ronald Stephens is executive director of the National School Safety Center. He says parents often want to rush to their child's side. But he says it's hard to know whether children will be safer at school or elsewhere.