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West Virginia Flooding 2016: Schools Remain Closed
The historical flooding on June 23, 2016 not only decimated homes and businesses, more than 24 schools were destroyed as well. Herbert Hoover High School in Falling Rock, West Virginia, sustained some of the worst damage. Causing a great upset to this school year, and the struggles continue for all the parents. Many children are only attending a half a day of school at this time. Creating issues for parents with children of multiple ages.
School students and their families see a ghastly apocalyptic scene around every turn. But media attention is non existent at this point. With even our small local networks reporting on other issues, rather than focusing on recovery issues and rebuilding our devastated schools.
The education of students continues to suffer as a result of limited time in the classroom. How can adequate instruction be giving when such a small amount of time is spent attending classes? The strain is felt not only on the parents, but the teachers as well. Sharing the schools that remain standing means that teachers are also sharing classrooms. Some teachers have reported being mistreated by the staff of the schools that they are now forced to teach in.
Students Attending Half Days
Herbert Hoover High School was deemed a total loss due to structural damage after the mighty Elk River extended her borders in the 1,000 year flood back in June. Students are now attending a half a day at the Elkview Middle School. So both middle school students and high school students are only attending school for 4 1/2 hours each day. Until portable classrooms can be set up elsewhere for students of Herbert Hoover.
This split half a day of school for both the High School and Middle School students also includes a lunch break. Meaning even less of those 4 1/2 half hours will be dedicated to the education of the students.
Herbert Hoover High School and Elkview Middle are just one example of the issue with public education relating to the flood in June. Other schools were also completely lost and deemed uninhabitable as well. Clendenin Elementary students are splitting the day with Bridge Elementary.
Many parents are having issues with the split days and what that means for their daily routine. Parents with children of different ages, that go to different schools are left with little choice but to take a leave of absence from work, or quit altogether. It leaves little room for childcare and the daily commute if you have children in Elementary, Middle, and High School. All these schools start and end at different times.
One Kanawha County Parent I spoke with is having to pickup and drop off her children every two hours. Leaving her no time during that day to stick with her employment. In a state already suffering financially, this is a very hard blow for many families. Especially those families who are still desperately trying to rebuild their homes.
There seem's to be no sign of any restoration to a normal school day for those schools that are overcrowded and splitting days. One parent expressed her concern for some portable classrooms that had been set up at Pinch Elementary School to house the students from Clendenin Elementary that can longer attend their school due to the flood damage. The area they are set up in is a very high traffic area, that has had multiple wrecks in the past. A vehicle wrecking into one of these makeshift classrooms so close to the road is a constant fear for many parents.
Everyone had expected suitable portable classrooms to be placed near or around the origional schools that have since been condemned. This would drastically cut down on the amount of time students from other areas are spending commuting to the new locations. They have continually put off placing classrooms at the respective schools since they first made the decision to do so in early August. As a parent, I can only imagine the effect this constant chaos is having on the ability of students to actually absorb their lessons, especially with only having 4 hours a day to learn.
Bus Overcrowding and Delays
As you can imagine with the addition of more students to schools that already had a full school of students, there are bussing issues. Perhaps the biggest complaint in some areas is that children are left standing on the bus without a place to sit. Lack of seating is just one concern though. There have been issues of extremely long bus rides as well.
Children on the bus for as long as 2 hours before they reach school. Delays and long rides will likely continue. FEMA only recently approved the use of portable classrooms for the schools that were demolished during the flood. Though the portables have been put on hold indefinitely by the Board Of Education. Who knows when and if the portable classrooms will be constructed and ease the burden on public education.
Moving forward through the school year we will no doubt see the educational suffering when students take their standardized exams . It is impossible to not expect students to fall short on exam. After All they are only getting a half a day of instruction, an absolutely inadequate day in terms of providing thorough education. I do not know what the answers are to the situation, though there definitely needs to be more solutions and less inaction by the board of education.
© 2016 Cynthia Hoover