Back to school (again)
Moss Hill Elementary teacher Kayla Harris talks to her class during the first day back for students Thursday. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
School is officially back in session in Lenoir County.
Children, teachers, and staff in the Lenoir County Public Schools system are back in the classroom for the first time since Sept. 11. LCPS assistant superintendent Nicholas Harvey II said aside from a few minor issues, the reboot of the school year in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence went well.
"It’s a great day to have the students back in the classrooms,” Harvey II said. “We’ve been out of school for 11 days, one (day) longer than Matthew, but the principals, teachers, and staff have done an outstanding job preparing (the facilities). The buses run well—we only had a few roads we couldn’t travel through—and we were able to get a lot of our equipment out of flooded areas before the storm. We had significantly less damage with Florence than Matthew, although we had some damage to roofs due to high winds.
“We’ll continue our efforts to work on the schools. We were able to clean up some of the playgrounds and campuses of (tree) branches and (they) have been in good shape overall. We’re trying to make sure the return to school is as seamless of a transition as possible.”
At Moss Hill Elementary, the experience after Florence was smoother than that of Matthew two years prior. Principal Stacy Cauley said most of the students weren't displaced in comparison to the record-setting hurricane in 2016.
“We know we have some lost time to make up for and on day 1, the teachers were out teaching their hearts out,” Cauley said. “The children were able to express themselves regarding the storm, which was a little better for us than Hurricane Matthew. We were heavily affected (by Matthew) in this area and had about 80 students displaced compared to about three with Florence, something we were definitely concerned about.”
Students did see plenty of damage throughout Florence's duration. Fourth-grader Braylin Dunn said he was happy to be back in school to see his friends after a rough storm.
“All of the roads were flooded and there was hardly anybody driving,” Dunn said. “This storm did a little bit more than Matthew.”
Another Moss Hill fourth-grader, Michelle Jones, shared similar sentiments.
“I wanted to see my friends and have fun,” Jones said. “There was a lot of damage and this storm was a lot worse than (Hurricane) Matthew."
With today being the first day back in more than two weeks, Moss Hill teacher Kayla Harris said the goal was to give her class and outlet to talk about Florence while easing into the curriculum again.
“It feels good to be back in a structured environment and I know the students are happy to be back,” Harris said. “We’ve spent a good amount of time (Thursday) talking about the storm and their experiences and I wanted to make sure everyone had food, clothing and other materials. They also wrote about their feelings, so if they didn’t want to voice their opinions out loud, they could write them out and we’d react if need be.”