Shields Elementary students return for first day at new campus

Hundreds of kids in the Red Oak Independent School District went back to school Tuesday in a new building after their school was damaged by a tornado.

Classes for Shields Elementary are now being held in the vacant Red Oak Junior High School building. Students will have to get used to a new routine and a slightly longer, but the district said it should be a smooth transition.

On Monday night the school held an open house to answer questions and let students become familiar with the campus.

“I like it a lot because it’s bigger. The gym is cool because it’s huge. The floor is cool. This place is really cool,” said Samantha Raack, a student.

“It’s all gonna be new, different for them. We know God will look out for them all. He looked out for them when the tornado came through. It’s going to be a different time for them,” added Paul Raack, Samantha’s father.

Over the Christmas holidays Shields Elementary was heavily damaged by a tornado. Engineers are now questioning the construction, saying the 7-year-old building should have withstood an EF-1 tornado.

Ratcliff Construction, the company that built the school, said in a statement that it strongly disagrees with the assessment. The company said the school was constructed in accordance with the plans and specifications provided.

Repairs to the building are expected to take several months.

Fortunately, Red Oak ISD had a vacant campus that only needed minor cosmetic work. Nearly 2,000 volunteers and staff members worked hard over the past week to get it ready for the students’ return.

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