JACKSBORO (KFDX/KJTL) — The lives of around 520 elementary school children and 50 to 60 staff at Jacksboro Elementary alone are impacted by the effects of Monday’s tornado.
Teachers, staff and volunteers will be working throughout the weekend to set up classrooms in local churches.
“I’m doing okay, but we have some families and some kids and some teachers who are struggling, and it’s our jobs as leaders and educators – sometimes we are the only source of joy and hope that a kid might have, and that’s why we gotta get back into school,” Jacksboro Elementary School Principal Michael Qualls said.
Qualls said things are on track to resume classes next week following Monday’s devastating EF-3 tornado.
“On Monday we will have a teacher workday where we’re gonna finalize kinda some of our plans, and then the kids will start on Tuesday,” Qualls said.
As crews work through the rubble, the First Baptist Church, Fort Richardson Masonic Lodge and the Parish of Jacksboro will house Pre-K through Third-graders for the next three weeks to a month.
“What we are currently doing now – is we are gathering the materials that are useable at the elementary and putting them in totes and getting them over here to the Baptist Church so that this weekend the teachers can set up their classrooms,” Qualls said.
Qualls said they are eager to return to the classroom, however, their top priority right now is the mental health and safety of students and staff alike.
“We’re going to have counselors staffed here and available for our staff on Monday, and on Tuesday we will have them here and available for our students,” Qualls said. “So Tuesday is gonna be a lot about playing, re-establishing our connections with kids and their friends and their teachers.”
As teachers and volunteers move supplies from the elementary school to what will be their new normal for the foreseeable future, they have one less thing to worry about, and that’s testing.
“We are not going to focus on any of that; we are gonna focus on the basic skills that kids need to be successful for daily life, meet their mental health needs and really just continue that relationship,” Qualls said.
Qualls said their main focus is just to love on the kids, have some fun and get them excited about school again, then in the summer, they will address some learning loss.
“Tigers together, we’ll see them on Tuesday!” Qualls said.
The fourth and fifth graders will be housed in the middle school.