School officials throughout Dallas County accessing damage, potential resumption of classes

Published 12:35 pm Saturday, January 14, 2023

By Travis Gupton

The Selma Times-Journal

With all the chaos and destruction from the tornado on Thursday, school officials throughout Dallas County have been assessing the damages and putting together game plans for their districts for the coming school week.

Schools in the Selma City School District suffered the most damage from the storm, and in a written statement Friday by Selma City Schools Superintendent Zickeyous Byrd, he said several schools had significant damage. He said while some schools will resume classes Tuesday, it’s unknown when others will be back in session due to structure damage and safety concerns for teachers and students.

“The school district performed damage assessments on today and found severe damage at the Knox School where the School of Discovery is being housed temporarily,” Byrd said. “All other schools, with the exception of Selma High School, are still without power at this time. Plans are being developed to possibly combine or transfer School of Discovery Students with RB Hudson. Although it’s our goal to return to school for some of our schools on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, we are unable to give a definitive date as to the return of school at this time due to the extensive damage to the city’s infrastructure and the need to provide shelter to needy families at Selma High School. We will continue to monitor the situation and conditions on a day-to-day basis.”

Morgan Academy, the city’s largest private school, also suffered damage around their school and headmaster Dr. Bryan Oliver said Friday he is not quite sure at when Morgan Academy will restart classes.

“I first want to say how thankful I am for God’s grace and mercy in protecting the students, faculty, and staff at Morgan Academy during the storms on January 12th,” Oliver said. “I know that major damage occurred throughout our community and the state as well as loss of life in some areas. Our prayers are with everyone affected by the storms in Selma and the surrounding counties. Additionally, I am grateful for all the people and leaders from other schools that have reached out to check on the school and our families. As of about an hour ago, I was informed that power had been restored to the school. Although we do have property damage we were able to avoid any major structural damage to the school. We will reassess at the end of the holiday weekend whether or not school can reopen on Tuesday. We understand many of our families’ homes and businesses were affected and we are committed to doing what we can to help. The well being of our families and students is the most important thing right now. Lastly, I would like to thank the first responders of Selma and the surrounding areas, power and other utility company employees, community members and other volunteers for all they are doing.”

The Dallas County School System closed their schools Friday, and Superintendent Anthony Sampson said that there was one school and the central office without power as of Friday.

“Traveling to every DCSS facility and conducting damage assessments today was eye opening,” Sampson said. “I thank DCSS Maintenance Coordinator Mr. Jerry Ware for doing the same thing and providing valuable feedback. I want to thank our leaders, teachers, and staff members for doing an exceptional job of keeping our students safe, before, during, and after the severe weather event. In our promise to remain transparent, we will continue monitoring school reopening in conjunction with Dallas County EMA. Safety is our top priority.