CLEBURNE Students returned to class in Cleburne Monday, five days after a tornado severely damaged two school buildings. Strong winds from the powerful EF3 twister ripped away part of the roof at Gerard Elementary School.

"We walked up here the day after it happened," said Shari Dey. She said her daughter "was emotional about it."

Gerard Elementary and Smith Middle School both took hard hits. Several classrooms were destroyed by incoming water and the power was knocked out.

"Without air conditioning, without lights, computers and stuff like that, it's difficult to have school nowadays," Superintendent Tim Miller said.

The district canceled classes for the remainder of the week, but many in the town of Cleburne agreed that it was important to get kids back in school, as soon as possible.

"I think they need normality. They need back to normal," Steve Whitney said Monday as he walked his son to school amid the seemingly ever-present storm debris.

Five-hundred students attend school at Gerard and another 750 are enrolled at Smith. They have three weeks of school left in the year. It is unclear if they will have to extend the year to make up for the lost days following the storm.

The district has about 6,500 students in all.


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