A dumpster loaded with discarded carpeting and other material sits outside the Red Bank Primary School, which remained closed Monday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)


After two weeks, Red Bank Primary School students were able to finally make their return to school Monday – just not their own school.

Displaced students attended a morning session at the middle school, before the middle school students arrived for an afternoon session.

The primary school, adjoining the Swimming River, was built on marshland, and suffered major flood damage as a result of Superstorm Sandy two weeks ago. According to Superintendent Laura Morana, over two-thirds of the school’s flooring and carpeting were rendered unusable in Sandy’s wake.

“The school has been in existence for over 40 years,” Morana told redbankgreen, “and this by far the worst damage we’ve faced as a result of weather.”

“Obviously, safety is our number one concern, and unfortunately the carpets and floors inside most of our facilities are too unsanitary now to clean and need to be replaced,” she said.

Morana said she hopes to have a much better idea of when students will be able to return to the primary school by Tuesday afternoon. Meantime, carpet and floor replacement began early Monday morning, and further assessment of the situation was to follow.

Though 16 classrooms have already been rendered student-ready, larger facilities, including the media room, cafeteria and gym will take much longer to fix, and full repairs to these rooms could take weeks or even months, she said.

“Fortunately, we moved equipment and computers to higher ground as a preemptive move before the storm, so only the floors were really damaged, and everyone here has been doing a remarkable job in the ongoing clean-up and restoration.” Morana said.

Though there is still some uncertainty about the state of the school, the district has been able to keep parents informed through numerous outlets of communication, including mailed flyers, automated informational phone calls, and even two public meetings, on Friday and Saturday, Morana said. Parents and students alike were ready for the return, she said, and the two schools will maintain a split schedule through at least Friday.

With 11 buses in operation – four more than usual to account for students who normally would walk but were unable to due to construction/storm damage – students got to take four-hours of instructional periods, and  couldn’t have been more excited to be back and in a “big-kid’s school” for the day, Morana said.

“I had to keep telling them they would have to eventually go back to their own school.” Morana said, with a laugh.