GCT students still attending class despite roof damage

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Thursday students returned to campus at Greene County Tech.  Because of the unknown condition of the buildings they weren't able to go back in their classrooms.  Since they can't use either of the high school buildings they've lost access to about 35 classrooms.  Since there is not space on campus to hold formal classes so teachers and administrators spent the day keeping the kids busy.

"It's kind of crazy.  Everybody is disjointed.  We've got tenth grade in one building, 11th grade in another," said Greene County Tech high school teacher Michael Nunnally.

That has left 700 students without the necessary space to learn. 

"We've had to move kids around.  We've added some, combined some AP classes," said GCT High School Principal Gene Weeks.

The reason students are cramped into small classrooms is because the safety of their buildings is in question.  Tuesday night's storm ripped the roof off one building and slammed it against another.

"I think the buildings are safe but we need to make sure someone other than a principal signs off on that so we've got insurance people coming in and building inspectors coming in and when they look at it then hopefully we'll get some of those classrooms back," said Weeks.

A structural engineer is expected to be there on Saturday.  Until they get the green light the buildings are closed.

"It's all about safety.  We're not going to put a kid in harm's way even if we miss a little bit of instruction we'll get back to safety that will be our number one issues," said Weeks.

In the meantime cleanup is still underway.

"They're removing the rest of the roof that was leaning up against the old main and then we're breaking and cutting it up and getting it hauled off," said Weeks.

In addition to removing the old roof, crews are working on top of the building to replace the roof.  There is also yellow and red tape blocking access to parts of campus.  Teachers and administrators want to provide as much instruction as they can for students but until they can move into classroom settings it's difficult to do.

"It's a challenge but luckily we've got great faculty members and we've got some of the best kids in northeast Arkansas," said Weeks.

Some students at GCT still have to finish their end of course testing.  GCT Principal Gene Weeks said the administration of Crowley's Ridge Academy has given them permission to use eight of their classrooms to do their testing.

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