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

4 months 2 days 18 hours 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
SARCOXIE, Mo. (AP) — The Jasper County prosecutor on Thursday charged a 23-year-old English teacher at Sarcoxie High School with... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 9:56:18 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Battle High School's Girls Wrestling team will make history by competing in the first high school girls state... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 8:56:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The first snow system is coming to an end and two more are on the way in less... More >>
5 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 8:25:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in Weather
COLUMBIA - Despite the treacherous conditions, some people have no choice but to drive in weather like Friday's. "My... More >>
6 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 6:48:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — The Humane Society of Missouri rescued 21 dogs and 21 cats from a property in western Missouri Friday.... More >>
7 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 5:42:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Another winter blast hit Missouri Friday, causing multiple accidents, closing schools and leaving highway experts... More >>
9 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 4:03:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in Top Stories
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A traffic stop for following too close led to troopers seizing oxycodone, THC wax, shatter, a product... More >>
10 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 3:04:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY — Ameren Missouri said several thousand jobs will be created as part of an effort to upgrade its... More >>
11 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 1:49:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA – The cold weather doesn't just affect road conditions, but fuel economy as well. According to the U.S Department... More >>
11 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 1:48:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and border security (all times local): 2:33 p.m. President... More >>
11 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 1:43:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
CAMDENTON (AP) — The parents of two suburban Kansas City victims of a Lake of the Ozarks boat crash have... More >>
12 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 1:14:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Agencies across mid-Missouri are responding to snowfall. Updates appear here in reverse chronological order, with the newest... More >>
13 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 12:20:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Attorneys for Sen. Josh Hawley asked a Cole County judge to quash a subpoena in connection with... More >>
13 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 11:32:00 AM CST February 15, 2019 in News
MEXICO, Mo. — The Mexico Public Safety Department responded to a fire at 1:19 a.m. Friday at the Hardee’s on... More >>
18 hours ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 7:02:00 AM CST February 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Approaching winter weather may have an impact on the Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships. The championships... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, February 14 2019 Feb 14, 2019 Thursday, February 14, 2019 10:07:00 PM CST February 14, 2019 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress lopsidedly approved a border security compromise Thursday that would avert a second painful government shutdown. However,... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, February 14 2019 Feb 14, 2019 Thursday, February 14, 2019 7:51:00 PM CST February 14, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The head of a physicians group says the sale of St. Mary's Hospital to MU Health Care... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, February 14 2019 Feb 14, 2019 Thursday, February 14, 2019 7:43:00 PM CST February 14, 2019 in News
COOPER COUNTY - Two months later and no arrests have been made related to the homicide of a Sioux Falls... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, February 14 2019 Feb 14, 2019 Thursday, February 14, 2019 6:12:00 PM CST February 14, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 18°
2am 17°
3am 16°
4am 15°
5am 14°