It’s one of the worst storms in U.S. history – Hurricane Harvey. As the world watches Houston tread water in efforts to achieve dry land, the city itself is struggling to function.
Deemed the 500-year flood, Harvey’s destruction is reaping giant waves of circumstance, specifically in schools – Houston the nation’s fourth most-populous city.
Opening bells did not ring this week for Houston’s public school system boasting over 100 districts, leaving this major entity facing massive and immediate change, with flood ramifications upon students and families compounding an already drastic situation. Education leaders recognize academic fallout breaching financial and sociological consequence. (The Atlantic)
Monday was slated to be the first day of school, which serves about 215,000 students – 76 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged. U.S. News reports “at least nine other school districts in proximity to Houston also have canceled classes until next week, including the Alvin, Channelview, Cypress-Fairbanks, Humble, Klein, Pearland, Spring, Stafford and Waller school districts.”
Adding insult to injury, school facilities in and around Houston are operating as shelters.
Libraries are also being used as makeshift shelters, and the school district’s bus fleet is facilitated by emergency response officials to transport people to main shelter sites. All factors directly affecting the welfare of the Texas school system at large, with the storm moving towards Louisiana.
Superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, Richard Carranza, says his district, “The largest in Texas and the seventh-largest in the U.S. – is working hard in conjunction with city and county officials in response to Harvey, which hit the Texas coast last week as a Category 4 hurricane and is now a tropical storm.” He estimates 35 of city school buildings – more than 10 percent of the total – had power failures or are flooded under water. The New York Times reports discouraging detail of how vast this crisis is for schools.
The White House states over 100,000 homes have been affected, with many factors leading up to Houston’s current position, pressing down hard on housing, families, and in countless ways… Schools.
Hopeful students plan to begin school this coming week – but with no end in sight, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) expects the storm to drive 30,000 people into shelters, with rain expected to continue falling through Thursday and Friday. Disaster leaders like the American Red Cross and surveying education influencers are additionally concerned with children who rely on daily school meals.
The Washington Post also reports how Harvey is affecting HigherEd, deeply impacting enrollment of local Colleges. The College Board called off plans to offer the SAT test at 138 testing centers in the state of Texas.
Houston needs school supplies, and alternative ways to educate during this troubled time.
Teachers have been delegated a private disaster relief fund for fellow impacted educators, where they can apply aid to help cover home damage, ruined cars, care for injuries and lost school materials. Maps leading to clean water and other valuable resources also supported.
Online education is expected to help teachers and students alike, streamline lost time in the wake of this critical disaster of the masses. Education leaders are already spawning opportunity and solution for Houston’s broken school system, with top shelf alternatives for the coming school year. HigherEd education, technology, flipped and blended school rooms and more, will indefinitely make their mark in Houston’s education rebuild.
For a review of ways to help offer relief for all affected by Hurricane Harvey, US News offered an excellent review including ways to donate, donation sites, food banks, animal relief, blood and tissue centers, clothing and supplies – and much more. As always, be sure to verify credentials of those accepting money. RELIEF EFFORTS
Written by Chelsie Foster