COWETA COUNTY, Ga. — Students in Coweta County who have been dealing with the double blow of a pandemic and a devastating tornado head back to school next week.
An EF-4 tornado ripped through Newnan in March, destroying or damaging dozens of homes and some schools as well.
Channel 2′s Lori Wilson talked to the Coweta County Superintendent Dr. Evan Horton about how his district plans to recover and return to school on August 5.
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Horton said that as much as they wanted to get in to repair damage at schools right after the storm, his first priority was making sure everyone was ok.
“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,” Horton said.
- Violent EF-4 tornado leaves at least 1 dead, “catastrophic” damage across Newnan
- Newnan High School takes direct hit from powerful tornado
- Crews rushing to get high school damaged by tornado ready for start of year
Horton said that after the tornado, community relationships were strengthened and he saw more clearly than ever just how important schools were to a community trying to heal.
“Helping to bring back a sense of normalcy to a community that has been through so much, one of the first things that we did was we made a commitment that we were going to have graduation at Newnan High in the stadium,” Horton said.
Horton said that this year, the district will follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and encourage masks, but make them optional. Masks will be required on busses per federal mandates.
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Newnan High School sustained the most damage in the storm. Students will be back at school in person, but they will be using temporary classrooms until buildings can be repaired.
Horton said he and his staff are excited to lay eyes on their kids and help them accomplish their goals.
“They say that disaster, the worst times will bring out the best in people,” Horton said. “That is absolutely the case.”
Horton said he learned through the double disasters of a pandemic and a tornado that his employees are incredibly resilient, and that his students and the district’s employees desperately want to be back together.
“My goal is for us to have as normal a start to the school year as we possibly can,” Horton said.
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