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Ascension schools not sure when they'll reopen due to lingering power outages

1 month 2 weeks 6 days ago Friday, September 03 2021 Sep 3, 2021 September 03, 2021 4:29 PM September 03, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

ASCESNION PARISH - The Ascension Parish school system is in limbo as nearly half of its campuses are still without power.

In a statement released Friday, the school system said only some of its campuses reported minor storm damage. However, only 24 of 40 campuses have had power restored so far.

While the school system hopes to resume classes sometime next week, officials said they do not have enough information to schedule a new start date at this time. 

Read the full statement below. 

Dear Ascension Public Schools Family,

I know you will all agree, this has been yet another challenging event for the Ascension community. We are grateful that the impact of Hurricane Ida was not as dramatic in Ascension Parish as we have seen in other areas near to us. However, we recognize that the impact to the Ascension community has created significant challenges due to damage of personal property and has created a temporary but substantial challenge to normal routines.

Our hearts go out to those who experienced substantial damage to their homes and to the many that continue to suffer from a prolonged loss of power during the hot days of August and September. But as always, we have witnessed the spirit of a determined community that works together to overcome challenges and adversity. We are all confident that we are on the road to recovery and have seen significant progress throughout this week. A heartfelt thank you goes out for the work of our local government agencies to include the Ascension Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness as well as our local law enforcement agencies who have all worked together with a sense of urgency to guide us on a path toward recovery.

THE STATUS OF OUR SCHOOLS
We are sending you this message today with the purpose to provide you with some initial information regarding our school system. Our facilities faired very well. Storm damage to facilities was, for the most part, very minimal with the most substantial impact occurring at Gonzales Middle School. The school had some roof damage to a portion of its campus, but their storm damage is limited to a small section of the campus which would not result in the campus being considered unusable once school resumes. Remediation began immediately and restoration will follow soon. Rest assured, the Mighty Bulldogs at GOMS will be able to return to their campus for learning in spite of the storm's impact to their roof.

On other campuses, we experienced some minor damage to roof flashing, gutters, awnings, fencing, and had a few roof leaks that required some clean-up. In addition, we had debris from trees on most campuses that required clean-up. Remediation has been in progress through the week, and we are grateful to all those that worked to achieve progress as we mitigate these minor impacts.

The biggest challenge for schools at this time is electricity. At the time that this message was composed, 24 of our 40 locations (school sites and district sites) have power. Although we are grateful for that progress we still have 16 sites without power at this time. Once we achieve power, it takes about a full day to ensure that the operating systems (kitchen equipment, mechanical such as HVAC and vent hoods, sewer where applicable, servers for technology, etc.) are properly up and running so that we can fully serve students for instructional services. We will continue to monitor the successful restoration of the power to schools through this weekend, but until we have full power at a school, obviously we are unable to open that school for student learning.

We are hopeful that we will be able to have students return to learning one day next week, but at this time, we do not have the necessary information required to provide you with an official date for reopening. We will plan to send you an updated message late Sunday afternoon with more details about what next week will look like. Monday is our regularly scheduled Labor Day Holiday, so the earliest we could return to campuses with staff and/or students would be Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. However, the exact date for reopening next week remains unknown. When we do return to in-person learning, we will continue following Governor Edwards' mask mandate, as required by the effect of law, that was extended through September 29, 2021, per Proclamation 167. We look forward to a day when face coverings in schools are determined by local school boards.

As always, we look forward to a successful recovery in our schools and to the many impacted parts of this community outside of our schools. We are eager to serve children academically again in our buildings and online very soon. We anticipate the resumption of those festive moments where we gather up to cheer for our students at athletic events and other performances, as we return to some normal routines in the very near future.

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