NEWPORT, Tenn. (WATE) — Five students are healing from cuts and scrapes they received when part of the roof came off of Newport Grammar School during last week’s severe storms. Guttering on the roof shattered the window of a 4th-grade classroom, the shards of which injured students nearby.
Newport City Schools Director Sandra Burchette said the students were scratched and scraped, but “are OK.”
The school building was damaged by high winds in the storm that spawned 3 tornadoes in East Tennessee. In addition to the roof and broken window, Burchette said there is extensive water damage that’s requiring carpet replacement.
The school has been closed since the storm passed through on Jan. 12, but Burchette said they are reopening Thursday, a week after the storm.
Three tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in Morristown, but they were not near the Newport school.
“It came so quickly,” Burchette said. “Our principal called for us to get sheltered in place, and the teachers and students had practiced the drill many times so they quickly got into place, and the storm passed.”
Strong winds from a fast-moving storm are believed to have caused the damage.
“It came so quickly though, that when they were getting sheltered in place that probably the storm was coming through,” Burchette told sister station WATE 6 about how the students were injured. “They’re doing OK. We will be back in school tomorrow.”
Burchette said she was in the building, in her office, when the storm hit. She shared that her first thoughts were of safety for the students and then getting the injured children the help they needed.
Burchette commended teachers and students for reacting quickly thanks to their experience practicing emergency drills.
“I want all the parents to know in the community that safety of their children is our top priority and the safety of our staff is top priority,” she said. “As I have said before, buildings can be replaced but lives cannot. We just appreciate our parents having confidence in us in sending their children to our school.”
Total cost damages to the school were not yet available.