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

4 months 4 days 7 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
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A traffic stop for following too close led to troopers seizing oxycodone, THC wax, shatter, a product... More >>
1 day 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 >>
2 days 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 >>
2 days 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 >>
2 days 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 >>
2 days 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 >>
2 days 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 >>
2 days 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 >>
2 days 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 >>
2 days 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 >>
2 days 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 >>
2 days 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 >>
2 days ago Thursday, February 14 2019 Feb 14, 2019 Thursday, February 14, 2019 6:12:00 PM CST February 14, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting significantly fewer flu cases in Missouri, compared to... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, February 14 2019 Feb 14, 2019 Thursday, February 14, 2019 5:41:00 PM CST February 14, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri filed its notice to appeal recent NCAA sanctions Thursday, saying infractions committee "abused its... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, February 14 2019 Feb 14, 2019 Thursday, February 14, 2019 5:11:00 PM CST February 14, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA – It's cheaper to live in Columbia than many other places. The... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, February 14 2019 Feb 14, 2019 Thursday, February 14, 2019 4:18:00 PM CST February 14, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Even though medical marijuana will be legal in Missouri next year, people using it could still be... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, February 14 2019 Feb 14, 2019 Thursday, February 14, 2019 4:18:00 PM CST February 14, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA – Harsh winter weather has left its mark on Columbia in the form of potholes. “Some of them... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, February 14 2019 Feb 14, 2019 Thursday, February 14, 2019 3:34:00 PM CST February 14, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is pushing to give lower income Missourians... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, February 14 2019 Feb 14, 2019 Thursday, February 14, 2019 2:41:00 PM CST February 14, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 29°
3pm 32°
4pm 32°
5pm 32°
6pm 31°