BOUNTIFUL, Utah, – It’s the time of year kids are headed back to school, but the parents, teachers, and students are wondering if Hannah Holbrook Elementary School in Bountiful will be ready to receive students when school starts on Tuesday.
Hannah Holbrook Elementary was built in 1962 and needed updating. Davis School District approved a 1.3 million dollar renovation in May, but the construction is still not finished.
Davis School District Communications Specialist Chris Williams told KSLTV the delay is due to the coronavirus and asked parents and teachers to be patient and understanding.
When parents came to help set up classrooms they were very concerned about the condition of the school and the classrooms, especially since the start date is only a few days away.
“I was completely shocked by the state of our school,” Tara Nelson said. “I only meant to stay for an hour; I ended up staying for four. Our teachers are being pushed to the limits and forced to set up their classrooms in ridiculous conditions.”
Nelson has three children that attend the elementary school.
“There was no air conditioning while we were moving heavy furniture into the classrooms for teachers,” Nelson said. “It was 90 degrees in the upstairs classrooms. It was too hot to function. I kept looking at the teachers and asking, ‘Are you all OK?’ There was no running water, and walls are still torn apart.”
Parents told KSL Davis School District Officials never listened or considered their viewpoint.
Neither parents nor teachers were comfortable moving forward with Tuesday’s start date because of how much work is left to be finished, and the conditions in the school, but Davis School District is insisting that school will start on the scheduled start date.
“We are most definitely starting school Tuesday,” Williams said. “Will the school be perfectly pristine? No. But we’ll be ready, and it will be a great school year.”
Williams said the renovation overhauled the school’s culinary water piping and added two new boilers which, “isn’t something that just happens overnight.”
“There are some areas that need to be finished.”
Williams said 20 out of the 24 classrooms are completed, but renovations will still need to be completed during the school year.
Teachers getting ready to return
Some teachers say they have have been staying as late as 10 p.m. working to get their rooms ready to teach in the midst of the construction mess.
“I don’t expect our teachers to work through weekends – but that is exactly what is going to happen in order to be ready for the first day of school,” Nelson said. “They aren’t being paid for this, and it could have been prevented. The district has been silent as teachers are crying out for help.”
More concern from parents
Parents are concerned the school is not up to code. Some of their concerns are exposed walls, drinking fountains that were installed too high for students to reach, and they say the updates do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Some construction workers are living on-site in an RV which also concerns Nelson.
“I am not comfortable with an RV parked on school property,” Nelson said. “If District Officials knew six weeks ago about a backlog in supplies, why didn’t they plan ahead so that this transition could be smooth, maybe even a small dose of normalcy, for our children?”
Students will only be attending school in-person school two days a week, with online classes three days a week.
“These teachers are amazing,” Nelson said. “They have extra students added to their classes, and they are trying to make sure every student feels loved and cared for while navigating through a pandemic and construction.”
Something everyone can agree on, for the students and teachers to have a successful year of learning and teaching.
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