Hamburg school officials seeking some normalcy in the midst of disastrous flooding will resume classes at Marnie Simons Elementary School today.

Hamburg School Superintendent Mike Wells says the water is out and students are asked to bring water bottles, and buses will run wherever possible.
“We probably have about one-third of our students still in our community,” Wells says. “So, our numbers are going to be very low. We’ll be teaching reading, math and science in the morning. In the afternoon, we’ll do community service. We’re going to deliver water to homes. Our kids will be response for laundry for folks. So, we’ll be doing community service, cleaning, doing whatever we can to help our community.”

The school has students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Since it’s one of the few buildings in the community not underwater, the school is serving as a temporary city hall and emergency operations center. And he says they want residents to come to the school. “We’re providing three meals a day for anyone in our community. We’re also the pickup point for any materials they need–water, food. So, the school has a lot of different roles,” according to Wells. “But, the kids can learn a lot through this process. They can help with that process. Often times, the kids want to know how we can give back. This will be a great learning opportunity for our kids.”

Wells says the past two days of school missed due to flooding will not impact the district’s schedule greatly. The superintendent says Hamburg only accumulated two snow days and their hourly schedule has enough extra time built into it so they could miss up to ten days of school without having to make them up. One adjustment they do have to make is doing without modern restrooms.

“It’s almost like a country school–they’ll be using our outhouses — and we’ll be eating off paper plates. I’m sure our meal plan won’t quite meet the traditional standards, but no one will go hungry,” he added.” Calling them “the best staff in the world,” Wells praised the resiliency of the district’s instructors. He says many of them volunteered in the community, despite being personally affected by flooding.

“Monday, when we evacuated Washington Plaza–the retired folks–our staff came in at 3:30 and four o’clock to help with the process of keeping people warm, dry clothes, feeding them,” he says. “Our staff has been superstars–they’ve donated a ton of time up here. It is a challenge, because some of our staff, their houses are flooded. They’ve had to go live with family. We are telling some of our staff to stay home. We have one teacher who lives in Carroll–we don’t expect her to come back until we get thing situated a little better.” Wells says their low student numbers allow them to easily cover the classes.

Wells also lauded students from other surrounding districts who assisted with sandbagging operations in Hamburg over the weekend.

(By Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah)