Florida schools scramble to get students back in class after Hurricane Michael

11 months 4 weeks 2 days ago Sunday, October 14 2018 Oct 14, 2018 Sunday, October 14, 2018 2:29:00 PM CDT October 14, 2018 in News
Source: CNN
By: Dakin Andone and Scott McLean, CNN

(CNN) - Florida Panhandle officials are trying to figure out how to resume classes after Hurricane Michael damaged or destroyed many schools last week.

The challenge is especially daunting in Bay County, where schools are closed until further notice, the Florida Department of Education's website said Sunday.

"I would say every single school in Bay County has some type of damage, some more extensive than others," said Steve Moss, vice chairman of Bay District School Board. "Some it'll probably take weeks or months to get online. Some it will take years.

"The only thing left of some of our schools ... is the foundation."

Moss told CNN he and his colleagues are working to come up with a plan to get thousands of students back in the classroom as soon as possible.

"We basically have 26,000 students here in Bay County," he said. "They still need educational services. They still need to learn."

High school seniors have been told they will be able to graduate, Moss said. Younger students won't be held back from the next grade.

"Now, to be able to do that, they have to been in a classroom setting," according to state law, Moss said, the wreckage of Jinks Middle School's gymnasium in Panama City, Florida, behind him.

It was just renovated last month, with a new floor and lighting, Moss said. But now the gym's interior is completely exposed to the elements and the floor is littered with debris.

Reopening schools is more 'critical' than some think

Craig Fugate, a former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, stressed the importance of getting schools up and running after a storm.

"Getting schools open ... is far more critical than most people realize," he said in an interview with CNN last year.

When kids can't go to school, some parents have to stay home and can't work. And for some low-income families, school is where kids get nutritious meals.

For some students, school is "their safe place," Moss said. Some are living in shelters now. Some have discovered their homes were destroyed.

And now the only other place they could turn to is gone, Moss said. "Psychologically, we're really working on how best to address this with our students."

Jinks Middle School Principal Britt Smith choked up when he looked at images of the damaged gym last week. But he was also concerned about the emotional and psychological impact the disaster could have on the students.

"We have contractors that will come in and rebuilt the homes," Smith said. "We (have to) rebuild the kids and their emotional well-being."

Different schools could share one campus

Bay County school officials are meeting Monday morning to discuss how to get students back in classrooms.

They're considering split sessions for high school students on campuses that escaped relatively unscathed. One high school would hold classes in the morning, and another in the afternoon.

"We're kind of in uncharted territory," Moss said.

Thankfully, he said, most of the district's buses remain undamaged, so they could be used to get students from one school to another. But logistically, that's a "big job."

Fugate, who is also a former director of Florida's Emergency Management Division, told CNN last year that officials took a similar tactic after Hurricane Charley in 2004.

"You can use other schools," he said. "Getting schools back to normal wasn't the mission. Getting kids back in schools was."

Moss also recognized Hurricane Michael's heavy financial burden.

"We did have somewhat of a contingency, a reserve fund to cover this, but not on this level," he said. "I don't think there's any district probably in the state of Florida that would have this type of reserve to plan for something like this."

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA — The CEO of Dow Inc. has donated $6 million to a new University of Missouri health institute... More >>
2 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 12:49:00 PM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
CENTRALIA - Centralia is holding their first monthly meeting on public safety Monday night since the firing of former Centralia... More >>
3 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 11:51:00 AM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
KEYTESVILLE- A mid-Missouri father filed a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday against the man accused of causing his disabled daughter's death... More >>
4 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 11:21:00 AM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A local group wants to expand the Jefferson City National Cemetery by relocating East Miller Park across... More >>
5 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 10:25:00 AM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
ROCHEPORT - The Columbia Department of Public Health and Human Services is opening community-based pop up flu clinics in Boone... More >>
5 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 10:20:00 AM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Moms Demand Action is partnering with Stop the Bleed Coalition to hold crisis first aid training on... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 3:40:00 AM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Maries County sheriff's deputies said a drunk driver was to blame in a fatal car crash from early... More >>
19 hours ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 8:46:00 PM CDT October 13, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Drivers on I-70 westbound saw 2 mile long delays around mile marker 124 when the Missouri State Highway... More >>
23 hours ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 4:18:00 PM CDT October 13, 2019 in News
ROCHEPORT - The Missouri Department of Natural Resources said the number of people using the Katy Trail is down by... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 3:08:00 PM CDT October 13, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The CDC began monitoring the 2019-2020 flu season this weekend. And doctors are urging people to get their... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 2:55:00 PM CDT October 13, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA — Six Columbia churches had their first Sunday service with improved emergency health precautions on Oct. 13. The... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 2:00:00 PM CDT October 13, 2019 in News
HARSTBURG – Celebrating another fall season with pumpkin carving, hayrides and a straw maze, the 28th annual Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 8:00:00 AM CDT October 13, 2019 in News
TOKYO (AP) — A heavy downpour and strong winds pounded Tokyo and surrounding areas on Saturday as a powerful typhoon... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 8:03:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
LILBOURN, Mo. (AP) — A small earthquake has been reported in southeastern Missouri. The U.S. Geological Survey says... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 7:41:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — One person died after a crash in Cooper County Saturday morning. Haven Pennington, 19, drove her Pontiac... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 4:55:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
There is 5:40 left in the game. North Kansas City's Ronaldo Calderon kicks a field goal to give the... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 12:36:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY — The dome of the Missouri Capitol building will be lit pink in honor of breast cancer... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 12:08:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
HARTSBURG - The Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival announced parking will be moved to the river roads near the festival grounds. ... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 5:50:44 AM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 71°
4pm 70°
5pm 67°
6pm 64°
7pm 60°