PNGISD to resume classes Tuesday

Published 12:41 pm Friday, November 29, 2019

PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves Independent School District will welcome its students back to campus Tuesday after the evacuation notice was lifted Friday morning following the TPC Group plant explosion and fires.

Both Port Arthur ISD and Nederland ISD will resume classes Monday as scheduled.

While the repairs on the affected PNGISD campuses are moving swiftly, Superintendent Mike Gonzales said he intends to take extra precautions by cancelling school Monday, Dec. 2.

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“We have a couple schools that were impacted by the blast,” he said. “We currently have our team working on those campuses and we believe we will get our schools back into working condition before Monday. I think we should be ready to go as soon as the workers clear us.”

All campuses within the Port Neches city limits were damaged, except for Ridgewood Elementary.

“We have broken glass and ceiling tiles that have came down,” Gonzales said. “We’re going to have to put all that up, wipe down the desks and deal with minor stuff at the elementary schools.”

Port Neches-Groves High School, which sustained the most damage, has begun repairs to broken windows, caved in gym doors, falling tiles and framework issues.

“In one or two spots the frames got damaged,” Gonzales said. “Other than that, it’s just a lot of minor stuff. There is just so much of it. That’s what makes it difficult. It’s the little things that you have to go back and clean up, make sure the classrooms are wiped down so students aren’t touching, breathing or eating anything harmful.”

As cleaning up continues, Gonzales said the campuses will conduct several air quality tests to ensure there is no detection of harmful chemicals or lingering asbestos fumes.

“We’re walking through everything,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure our kids are safe before they come back.”

Gonzales said he is grateful that students were not in school during the incident, but is using the experience as a learning tool for the future.

“We hate that this happened, but it did happen,” he said. “I’m just glad that kids weren’t in the classes. We have drills in place because of the area we live in, but there really hasn’t been anything catastrophic. This is something we will just learn from in the future and use to move forward.”

After sustaining considerable damage during the explosion only 15 days after a cybersecurity threat, Gonzales said he is proud of his students and staff who have remained resilient through the chaos.

“Our employees are well-versed,” he said. “They know how to handle all different situations. We’ve dealt with hurricanes. We’ve dealt with floods, ransomware and now this. Our teachers are just as resilient as our students. They get a little rattled, but before you know it they are back at it. It’s just what they do. It’s who we are.”

Periodic updates will be posted on the school districts Facebook page. Residents are urged to continue monitoring via social media.