Over the past week, I have been in ongoing contact with superintendents whose school systems have been hit by one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit our state. Hurricane Harvey brought with it extremely damaging winds, heavy rains and extreme flooding. Gov. Greg Abbott’s disaster declaration encompasses 58 counties. More than one million students attend the Texas public schools in these counties.
During this entire weather event, I’ve been in awe of the many examples of our teachers, superintendents and school staff looking after and taking care of their communities during very trying circumstances. Many schools served as shelters for those evacuated from their homes. In many of those shelters, school personnel served as the staff. Meals were provided and comfort offered – all while sacrificing time and while their own homes may have been in harm’s way.
In the aftermath of this hurricane, I continue to be in contact with superintendents and our regional Education Service Centers. In many parts of our state, there is still much work to do regarding disaster relief. Damage assessments must be made at various school facilities. Teachers and staff must be secured again, with public safety still at the forefront of all decisions. In the coming weeks and months, we will work to support our schools, the heart of all communities.
The Texas Education Agency has established a central resource page on its website to share information and resources related to questions and issues arising from the hurricane (http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/Other_Services/Weather_and_Disaster/Hurricane_Harvey_Resources/). I encourage our school systems to continue checking that page. Our thoughts and prayers remain with all those in our state affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Commissioner Mike Morath
Sept. 1, 2017