Robinson ES students return for ‘fresh start’ at home campus after post-Harvey renovations

Children and their parents lined up at the doors of Robinson Elementary School on Monday morning, eager to see inside their newly renovated and repaired school, which sustained significant damage from Hurricane Harvey in August.

As one student stood bewildered looking up and down the hallways, Principal Paige Fernandez-Hohos stepped in. “Who is your teacher? What grade are you looking for?” she asked. After getting the information, Fernandez escorted the little girl down the correct hallway toward the third-grade classrooms.

“It definitely feels like the first day of school in August, just because of the new building and kids aren’t always 100 percent sure of where they are going, and teachers have a new schedule,” Fernandez-Hohos said, noting the help the campus has received in getting ready for the first day back.

“Between the (HISD) Bond and Facilities departments, we’ve had all the help we’ve needed to get everything ready for today,” she said.

Robinson students spent the fall semester split between Pleasantville Elementary School and neighboring Holland Middle School as crews worked to repair and renovate their home school. The building has since undergone a major interior renovation. All porous surfaces below about 4 feet were removed and replaced, as were cabinets, wood surfaces, vinyl floor tiles, furniture, classroom supplies, and education materials. Additionally, the entire building was professionally cleaned, sanitized, and inspected.

Robinson kindergarten teacher Alexandra Rabadan said the transition so far has gone really well, both for teachers and students.

“I’m a first-year teacher, so I had just gotten a little bit used to the school (before the storm), she said. “We did lose a lot of the beautiful murals, but it’s a fresh start – especially for the students. They definitely feel at home here.”

Seven campuses in HISD were required to relocate after damage from Harvey: Robinson, Braeburn, Scarborough, Kolter, Hilliard, and Mitchell elementary schools, and Liberty High School. Renovations at Hilliard are ongoing. District officials opted to renovate both schools because of the age and sustainability of both buildings.

The HISD Board of Education approved a plan at its December meeting to rebuild Braeburn, Scarborough, Kolter, and Mitchell due to catastrophic property damage at those campuses, as well as a strong need to raise the elevation of the buildings to prevent potential future flood damage.

Liberty High School had been located in a facility leased but not owned by HISD. The school was temporarily relocated to Sharpstown International School. District administrators are reviewing long-term relocation options for the campus.

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