Robeson County schools back in session after closing for three weeks due to Matthew

Robeson County schools back in session after closing for three weeks due to Matthew

LUMBERTON, NC (WMBF) - Students are back in class in Robeson County three weeks after school doors closed for Hurricane Matthew.

However, families are still coping with flooding and damaged homes, and being out of school.

Robeson County Superintendent Tommy Lowry said all of the 42 schools were tested for air quality and there was only one room where students are not allowed to enter. He added less than 10 schools had water damage.

According to Lowry, a large problem families were facing was transportation, bus routes and housing, all which impacted schools opening back up.

West Lumberton Elementary is the only school in all of Robeson County that is still closed and unable to reopen. The 151 elementary students aren't all back yet because of families unable to get their children to school.

After discussing mobile units, the school district decided the best option was to keep the students together and move into the west 300 wing of Lumberton Junior High School.

The students still have their own lunch and PE schedule, and will stay separate from the junior high students.

Lowry wants the kids to get back into a routine.

"You know, from what we've gone through, what the kids have gone through, their parents, this whole county, it's good to get back to a little normalcy," he said. "The routine is the same. They have support here as far as counselors, social workers, teachers and everybody else at the schools that have gone through some devastation."

West Lumberton Principal Tara Bullard said some students and parents had a little apprehension.

"So, you know, they were able to park and walk in and I feel certain that any fears they had have been relieved," Bullard said. "I can imagine for the superintendent it's been very very hectic. I can speak about what's gone on at West Lumberton and I can just tell you that day by day is really how we were living, making decisions day by day because there was so many other factors that played into whether or not we could open school."

With lost school supplies, backpacks and many other things students faced, the donations from all over North Carolina was amazing to see, Bullard said. That included 200 boxed donated by the Red Cross that children took home.

"We are just truly blessed and very, very grateful for all of the help that we have received," she said.

Linda Brewer, a mother of three, has students at West Lumberton Elementary. She said, thankfully, the junior high is down the street and she didn't have to change districts.

Brewer and her family are still out of their home, which was damaged during Hurricane Matthew. She said while it's reassuring to be back in school, the feeling of being displaced is not.

"It still unsettling," Brewer said. "You don't know when you're going back to your home, you don't know if you are going back to the house you were in or if you have to move or not."

Still being in school again is just one piece of the puzzle that so many in Lumberton are putting back together.

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.