Letcher County Schools head back to class nearly two months after devastating flood

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Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 12:21 PM EDT
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LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - School buses were back on the road Wednesday morning in Letcher County following devastating flooding that swept through parts of the region in late July.

“Even under normal circumstances, we’re excited to see our students, we love our students here and that’s genuine, but today was even more special because we get to see that they’re safe. We know that when they’re with us they’re safe and that means a lot,” said Michael Sparks, a 7th grade language arts teacher at Fleming Neon Middle School.

Due to damage at West Whitesburg Elementary (WWE), Whitesburg Middle School (WMS) and Martha Jane Potter (MJP) Elementary, students at those schools are now sharing space with other schools that were spared.

“I’m very, very proud of my staff and everyone who’s gotten us to this point,” said West Whitesburg Elementary School Principal Stacy Isaac. “A week; we’ve only been working in our rooms a week and a few days upstairs and I feel like we’re in a palace because the teachers have worked so very hard to make the best situation out of what we’ve been dealing with.”

WMS students are at Cowan Elementary, WWE students are at Letcher County Central High School for the moment and MJP’s kids are at Fleming-Neon Middle School.

“Kids are far more resilient than adults are in some extent and so they will adapt and they’ll be alright,” said Fleming Neon Middle School Principal David Robinson. “It’s our job to provide a safe, caring, educational environment for them and that’s what we’ll strive to do.”

Preschool and some special-needs classes were taken to the Letcher Elementary and Middle School campuses.

Letcher County Schools Superintendent Denise Yonts said the goal is to have the Martha Jane Potter students back in their building by December.

“We know that our community is still suffering and that the recovery is going to be long-term, but getting back to school is one of the small steps we can do to see that improvement, to see that progress, and that gives us hope to continue and to make those bigger steps,” Yonts said.