Public school students displaced following tornadoBy Chanel Davis, Peacemaker Contributor / April 19, 2018
Students from three Triad schools will be relocating due to extensive storm damage at those schools following an EF-2 tornado that ripped through parts of East Greensboro Sunday afternoon.
Guilford County Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to move Hampton, Peeler and Erwin Elementary schools to different sites through the end of the 2017-2018 school year during an emergency meeting that was called Monday afternoon, after assessing the damage left by the storm. The chambers at the administration building, at 712 N. Eugene St., were filled with many school personnel anxious to find out the next steps to returning to normal.
“Our thoughts are with the families, the children and certainly the entire community impacted by this devastating time,” said GCS Superintendent Sharon Contreras. “We’re working to make sure our students are back in school as quickly as possible. We know it may not be ideal for the next two months, but we will make sure that it is comfortable and that we do everything to make sure it’s as smooth as possible.
Hampton Elementary’s 297 students will relocate to Reedy Fork Elementary, which has a current enrollment of 424 students. Reedy fork has up to 13 classrooms available and can hold up to 870 students. Peeler Elementary’s 291 students will relocate to Bluford Elementary, which has a current enrollment of 276 students. Bluford can hold up to 567 students. Erwin Montessori’s 252 students will relocated to Alamance Elementary, which has a current enrollment of 526 students, but can hold up 854 students.
Transportation would remain the same for students as they will use the same buses and the same bus spots that are typically used. Extra time will be granted to students in order to travel to and from school.
The district’s School Support Officers will lead transition teams to work with the schools to develop a plan to meet both school’s needs including furniture, classroom supplies, technology, transportation, food, scheduling and instructional materials. The district would be looking to set up at least 42 classrooms.
Hampton Elementary’s Principal LaToy Kennedy spent Tuesday with her teachers delivering food at New Light Missionary Baptist Church. She said the outpouring of love from the community as been outstanding.
“We’ve had a lot of people calling and texting to ask what they can do to help,” Kennedy said. “It’s real emotional but we’ll get through it.”
Kennedy said that she’s worried more about the families that attend her school.
“I know that some of them are renters, they’re displaced, and I’m concerned about whether or not they have a place to stay or food to eat,” she said. “I want them to get in touch with their local resources, to know that we (Hampton) loves them and we will get through this.”
Andy Gann, principal at Peeler Elementary, and his staff walked the neighborhood to knock on doors and check on the students and families that attend the school. He said that the first thoughts from his staff was to ensure that students were safe and then to see how they could help them.
“Shock was the first feeling that I had. Seeing the devastation of the homes our students was just heartbreaking. The first thing that I wanted to do was go try and find my students,” he said. “We were out walking in the community to check on our students, we had Out of the Garden in our school parking lot giving out food, and just giving folks a common place to come to for help.”
Gann said that while this is a big transition for the students, his goal is to look at getting them stable as quickly as possible.
“We want to have some consistency for them and make sure they end the school year strong. We have a great team and great students.”
There’s not a clear time table on when students district-wide will return to school, as many roads are not yet clear, and a large number of GCS schools were still without power at the time of Monday’s press conference including: Simkins Elementary, McIver Pre-Kindergarten office, Falkener Elementary, Dudley High, Academy at Lincoln, Bluford Elementary, McLeansville Elementary, Gateway Education Center, the Franklin Street Administration building, the transportation and maintenance buildings.