Duplin County students returned to schools Wednesday, their first day back after Hurricane Florence. 

As cars piled into the parking lot this morning, students, teachers and staff were all eager to get inside.

“They had just started school and then the storm came and then that had to leave but I’m just glad they kept the students safe so they wouldn’t be in no danger,” said Queenyona Chasten, whose child attends Warsaw Elementary.

Chasten said her son Elijah couldn’t wait to come back to school after Duplin County schools were closed for one month due to Hurricane Florence.

“At first he was like, ‘Awe, I got to go to school but Oh, Ms. K., I get to see my teacher again’. He was excited about going back,” said Chasten. 

Ninety percent of the campus’ students returned Wednesday morning. 

Every Duplin County campus suffered water damage from Florence, but everything has been repaired.

The district said all buildings are safe for students and staff.

Each teacher shared heartfelt, encouraging words to their students at the morning pep rally.

“Just to let them know that they were loved and how much they missed them and to let them know they are going to be supported as they get back into their class work,” said Pamela Murray, Warsaw principal.

Parent Tammy Phipps, who volunteers at the school, has three sons enrolled in Duplin County schools. 

She said having her kids back in school gives her family a sense of structure and normalcy again.

“Oh my gosh, it was crazy,” said Phipps. “I was so ready to come back. Its the routine, the normalcy being around everybody that you know. Being stuck at home? It’s not fun it’s boring.”

Phipps said what she misses most is the staff at Warsaw Elementary, who she considers family. 

“They’re hardworking people,” said Phipps. “They make you feel at home. They make you feel loved and it’s automatically a warm comforting feeling when you walk through those doors.”

The district is working on getting final numbers from today’s attendance.

You can see the Duplin Revised School Calendar here.