Petal Upper Elementary construction ongoing

Petal Upper Elementary construction ongoing
Photo credit: WDAM

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - January's EF-3 tornado impacted the Petal Upper Elementary School and displaced roughly 600 students.

Those students have been attending classes at Petal Harvey Baptist Church, awaiting to return to their normal classrooms.

Petal School District Superintendent Matt Dillon is hopeful they will make their return around spring break.

"We're still shooting for around spring break-ish time frame as far as between there and April 1st," Dillon said.

The school had more than a million dollars in damage from the Jan. 21 tornado.

"Where we're at right now, they're putting the roof on and lot of thick layers are having to be manually removed, so that is slowing down the process and then they are able to put the new layers back and get it up to code," Dillon said. "So there is some positives that come from that due to upgrades and code."

Dillon said books, projectors, boards and classrooms were damaged from rainfall, but they are managing fine at Petal Harvey.

"We want to get back to our regular building so we can get acclimated back to our old environment, and get prepared as testing will be right around the corner," Dillon said.

With that testing on the horizon, Dillon does not see the change of venue for classes being an issue.

"We just continue to do a great job over here, and teachers are doing amazing work and I know they leave the school tired every day, but they're doing great things," Dillon said.

He said teachers have had to be a little more creative in their new temporary environment, but everything seems to be flowing smoothly.

"We have changed environments, we have as a city and a community, gone through a devastation, so I know that plays into it but we truly believe in our teachers and we truly believe in our students and they are going to respond in a high level like they normally do," Dillon said. "Kids are extremely resilient; our teachers are having to be a little more creative and innovative with their teaching mechanism because they don't have everything to their disposal from technology that they're used to."