The tentative return date for students in Craven County is on Monday.

At H.J. MacDonald Middle School in New Bern, the cafeteria and library flooded due to Florence.

“We lost some library books and had some damage in that regard,” principal Pamie Reese said.

For some students at the school, the flooding at home was much worse.

“We have 65 confirmed students displaced from their homes,” Reese said.

Reese said six staff members are also displaced.

In the last few weeks, the school has been reaching out to families to identify their needs.

“If it is school supplies, transportation to and from school, assistance with filling out an application for free or reduced lunch,” Reese said.

More than 800 students are displaced county-wide.

“Not all families have been reached so that probably is a low number,” Craven County Schools public relations director Jennifer Wagner said.

Wagner said they will adjust their bus routes to make sure everyone has a way to attend their home school.

“We don’t want any of our students to feel like they have to go to a different school just because they have had to relocate,” Wagner said.

Crews are preparing schools this week ahead of the first day back on Monday.

“They are making sure that the humidity levels are where they need to be, and the air quality is where it needs to be,” Reese said.

“Three of our sites served as shelters,” Wagner added. “The residents that stayed there transitioned at the end of last week so those buildings are being cleaned thoroughly as well.” 

Reese said the first few days back will focus on listening and healing.

There will be counseling services available for students and staff county-wide.

“We will focus on the whole child and making sure that our staff is equipped with training necessary to identify emotional needs and emotional trauma that many of our children may be returning to school with,” Reese said. “We will be aware of the trauma the adults and teachers might be feeling as well. We are going to take time and be very intentional with trainings and conversations to make sure we are not only focused on educating the child academically but also supporting that child emotionally.”

The school board said that if you need to contact your school ahead of the next week, make sure to email principals instead of call, as staff are still out of the office.