The Joplin School District is asking for help in accounting for all of the students and staff that might have been displaced by the tornado that devastated the community earlier this week.

The Joplin School District is asking for help in accounting for all of the students and staff that might have been displaced by the tornado that devastated the community earlier this week.

“They are posting information to Twitter, the school district’s website and Facebook trying to locate families,” said Stephanie Smith, public relations director for the Fort Osage School District. “They are also working with four to five PR directors around the state trying to get information out to communities where families might have gone following the tornado.”

Smith said the first priority of the school district of more than 7,700 students and 741 staff members is to locate all staff members and students to make sure they are safe. She said because Kansas City is just more than two hours from the city, administrators in Joplin believe some families might have relocated to the Kansas City area to stay with family and friends.

“They want to make sure that everyone is OK,” Smith said. “They are doing the best they can to locate everyone.”

The Joplin School District actually had nine more days remaining in the 2010-11 school year prior to the tornado. However, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has forgiven the days, ending the school year.

The tornado, which carved a path of destruction six miles long, destroyed three schools – Joplin High School, Franklin Technology Center and an elementary school, severely damaged three other buildings and caused possible roof damage to two others. Eleven buildings escaped damage and several support facilities in the district sustained minor to moderate damage.

Another reason Smith said administrators are trying to locate families is to offer assistance if needed. In addition, a decision on whether or not to continue with plans for summer school is forthcoming.

“They have started a relief effort so the district is trying to determine who needs help,” she said. “After making sure students are all right, they will make a decision about summer school. If there is interest and space, they might go ahead and have it.”

Joplin School District students and families are asked to call 417-625-5270 or 417-625-5290 to check in or post to the school district’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/joplinschooldistrict#!/joplinschooldistrict.

Those interested in making a donation can send checks made out to Joplin Schools to Joplin North Middle School, Attn: Kim Vann, 102 N. Gray Ave., Joplin, Mo. 64801.

For access to the school district’s website, visit www.joplin.schoolfusion.us. Information and updates will be posted to the website periodically.