Oak Mountain Middle to reopen to students, staff April 19

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Students and staff will return to Oak Mountain Middle School starting Monday, April 19, after Shelby County School District leaders were given clearance that it is safe to resume classes there.

“Over the last few weeks, Shelby County Schools’ maintenance staff, OMMS staff members, the district architect firm, and structural engineers have been working to clean up and assess the damage to the school after the F3 tornado on March 25, 2021,” said superintendent, Dr. Lewis Brooks. “After further assessment by structural and building engineers, it has been determined that a large portion of the building is structurally sound and students can return to campus for instruction.”

Brooks said there is damage to the eastern wing of the school that still cannot be occupied. That area will be closed off to students and staff but there is classroom space in other parts of the building that will be utilized in order for instruction to commence.

Due to damage to many buses, certain bus services will not be available at this time. Students that ride certain buses will have to be car riders to and from school each day until the replacement parts are received to make the necessary repairs. The district’s Transportation Department continues to work on the damaged buses and will be communicating later this week with parents of affected bus routes.

“Thank you to everyone who worked so diligently on the clean-up effort,” Brooks said.

“There is still much to be done, but it is certainly exciting to know that students will return next week. Your patience, kindness and support are also appreciated. We look forward to seeing our students back on campus.”

It was first announced that OMMS would continue with online learning indefinitely, as Principal Larry Haynes worked with the team of architects, engineers and electricians inspecting the building.

“The building suffered extensive damage, with those being the primary things,” Haynes said. “When you have that kind of wind from an EF3 storm, the first thing that needs to be done is to look at what needs to be repaired in a reasonable turnaround time. The number one thing, however, is to look at the entire building to make sure that it is secure.”

Haynes recognized the value of in-person learning and said that according to research, face-to-face interaction with teachers yields the best results.

Prior to the most recent announcement that the school would reopen, Haynes said that area churches, parents and universities had reached out to him asking to help.

“I have been amazed and touched by the way this community has come together. There have been so many people reaching out to us at the school and asking how they can help,” Haynes said.