Months after devastating tornado, Newnan High prepares for emotional 1st day back

COWETA COUNTY, Ga. — Coweta County Schools return to class on Thursday in what will be an emotional day for families, especially in Newnan.

Not only was the county hit by the pandemic, but an EF-4 tornado ripped through Newnan in March. The powerful storms destroyed or damaged dozens of homes and some schools as well.

Newnan High School sustained the most damage in the storm. The school has thirteen buildings, 10 of which sustained heavy damage.

“Seeing that happen to a place that you love and to people that you care about... We’re going to fix the building and get those repaired, but people are the heart of everything,” Coweta County Superintendent Dr. Evan Horton said.

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Several buildings will not be used when students start back Thursday because the damage is so significant. Most are being held in place by steel poles and some aren’t same to enter.

Students will return to school in three buildings and 60 mobile classrooms. The three buildings the school is using only had water damage and broken windows.

During a summer visit, Channel 2′s Kristen Holloway noticed multiple crews on site working on the repairs.

Principal Dr. Chase Puckett told Holloway that he was optimistic that repairs will be finished in time for when students return.

“We’ve got modular units being set up, we’re going to get furniture moved in, technology put in place,” Puckett said. ‘We’ve got some sidewalks we need to put, and walls to put up, but we’re going to be ready.”

Puckett said a lot of things will be different returning to face-to-face learning after going through a global pandemic and a tornado.

“We have new bus routes, bus loading zones, we have 9th grade students on one campus, 10th-12th on another campus,” he said. “The biggest challenge right now is finding how to revamp everything in a way that provides a positive environment for students and teachers.”