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GLENN HEIGHTS (CBSDFW.COM) – Some students in Ellis County are starting the new year in a new school building on Tuesday, after their elementary campus was badly damaged in last month’s tornado outbreak. Classes are resuming in the Red Oak Independent School District, but Shields Elementary School is not opening its doors.

The campus will remain closed for at least the next six months, while repairs are made to the tornado-ravaged building.

Shields Elementary School in Glenn Heights was one of many places ripped apart by tornadoes when storms struck the Dallas area on the day after Christmas.

However, there is now a new Shields Elementary School located on Live Oak Street. The community has worked hard over the past week to prepare the building — an old junior high school — to be a new home for the young students. That old campus has been renovated and prepared to house children once again.

The elementary students — about 500 kids total — will spend the remainder of the school year in this new building. Officials in the Red Oak ISD anticipate that the regular Shields Elementary School building will be ready by August.

Complete Coverage Of The Cleanup

Teachers and school staffers sacrificed a part of their winter breaks to move everything over to the new campus in time for the students to return on Tuesday. Parents and children got a preview of the new setup during an open house on Monday night.

While the building might be different, the faces will all be familiar. “I think that it helps the kids feel more secure to come back to the same teachers, the same supplies, the same classmates,” explained parent Laura Prestridge. “It’ll make them feel secure and safe.”

“A sense of community has been so awesome here — 1,500 volunteers including employees who’ve given their own time,” said Red Oak ISD official Adi Bryant. “Employees who have come in to work. Staff, students, teachers, parents have come together to make this school turn from an old junior high to a fresh new elementary for these students to enjoy.”

Ironically, many of the students who attend Shields Elementary School did not experience the severe tornado damage to their homes. But there are residents within the community who saw extensive home damage while their schools were untouched by the storms.

Jennifer Lindgren