PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Day after day turned into week after week with students out of school in Pender County after Hurricane Florence. When students finally returned to the classroom Oct. 22, parents across the county were overjoyed.
Some parents cheered, smiling as lunches were packed. Others used self control and kept their excitement to themselves. There were a few tears of joy shed. And then there was this woman, who welcomed the second, first day of school with flowers for the bus driver!
“When you haven’t seen Ms Williams in 29 school days... she gets rose petals and flowers!!!!!!” Karen Heide Lambert posted on Facebook.
Students initially went back to school August 27, after a few months of summer break. That was the first and last full week of class those students saw until the week of October 22.
“(School) gives them a sense of normalcy and security,” Kelly Jelley, whose son is a first grader at Topsail Elementary, said. “It’s kind of like the first day of school because we were only in school for two weeks. So he’s adjusting really well, I had to stay an extra few minutes, but glad to be back in the swing of things.”
The school district had hoped to get students back in school Oct. 8, but mold was found in several schools. Equipment was put in place to stop the mold and mildew from spreading, but that's cost between $65,000-$90,000 a day to run.
Schools in Pender County were severely damaged during Florence and her aftermath, with the district recently announcing repairs for its 18 schools would cost more than $12 million.
According to Pender County Schools Superintendent Steven Hill, 64 staff members and almost 600 students were displaced by the hurricane.