HINDMAN, Ky. — For many school districts across the state, school officials kicked off the first day of school on Wednesday. 

What You Need To Know

  • First Day of School will have to wait in Knott County

  • Hindman Elementary School has seen a lot of water damage

  • Flooding destroyed cafeteria tables, floors, classrooms and hallways

  • School officials plan to host an ice cream social to welcome an unofficial first day of school at a church in town

Unfortunately, in eastern Kentucky, that will have to wait until schools are repaired and rebuilt.

“Today was supposed to be day one back to school for a first normal school year since before COVID,” said Jennifer Dyer, assistant principal at Hindman Elementary School in Knott County.

Dyer is processing all the emotions that come when dealing with a disaster. “We were excited, our teachers were excited to be able to come back in and not have masks on, to not have to worry with taking temperatures as the kids got off the buses to make sure that they were going to be back into that normal first day you know, excitement,” Dyer said.

Her elementary school serves about 420 students all the way to 8th grade and it’s seen a lot of damage, where all across the parking lot outside are piles and piles of debris.

“It’s been a short process and feels like in a long period of time from day one of walking in the building when there was three inches of mud on the floor, and my heart was completely shattered,” Dyer said. “I couldn’t leave our building within five days of us having our back-to-school meet and greet for our kids and our teachers.” 

Their rooms were ready, now they’re bare.

“A lot of that is mud and debris that’s over there and then all of this is just things that they’ve been able to pull out of the classrooms, the cafeteria, and said that it was not salvageable at all,” Dyer said.

A water clean-up and restoration company is spread across the campus sanitizing and dehumidifying each classroom and hallway. (Spectrum News 1/Khyati Patel)

“It’s not only affected us of course. We’ve lost our building, Knott County Central High School has been affected, our vocational school has been affected,” Dyer said.

But there’s a ray of hope shining through.

“Everybody has come together in our community and all of our educational staff across the district,” Dyer said. “We’ve become a brotherhood and sisterhood during this time.”

Dyer said school officials and teachers are planning to host an ice cream social to offer an unofficial first day of school to meet their families and students on Wednesday.

In the meantime, Dyer said they expect to reopen the school on Sept. 19 if all plans go accordingly.