Mother Nature hits Grayson Schools hard, class goes on

After two floods and an earthquake, school goes on during the pandemic
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 10:19 PM EDT
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GRAYSON COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - In Grayson County, the school system is overcoming Mother Nature’s wrath in addition to adapting to COVID-19.

After two floods within two and a half weeks at Fries School, huge chunks of the property are caution-taped off because water left destruction of steps and sidewalks, and holes.

“If it wasn’t for the volunteers and the fire department, we wouldn’t have been able to start school on time,” said Superintendent Kelly Wilmore.

Wilmore said this is the third time the property has flooded this badly in the five years he’s been in his role. In photos the district shared with us, the entire back parking lot and front section of the school can be seen under water from heavy rain.

“We’re trying to juggle a lot of things right now,” Wilmore said.

This all comes while trying to re-open schools four days a week during the middle of a pandemic, a start that was already delayed five days because of an earthquake.

“We’ve gotta continue to move forward and we’ve gotta continue to do what’s best for our students,” the superintendent said.

Some of the damage from the earthquake is going to take a little more effort to repair, but Wilmore said it’s all cosmetic. The cracks that have been fixed you can hardly see anymore.

“The only area of concern was the high school gymnasium, but we’ve got that reinforced now so it’s good to go,” Wilmore said.

While that’s happening behind the scenes, the school day goes on in the COVID world. At the high school, halls are divided so traffic moves in the same direction. At Independence Elementary School, the lunch ladies prepare trays for the kids that everyone waits for in a distanced line to take back to the classroom.

“It’s been a tremendous community effort to bring this many kids to school under the restrictions and guidelines that have been laid down to us,” Wilmore said.

For now, in-person students go to school four days a week until we enter Phase Four.

“We’re just moving forward, we’ve had a great week so far,” Wilmore said.

The superintendent said they’re taking everything one day at a time. Damage costs are still being determined.

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