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‘It’s been a phenomenal reception’: Hayes Cooper Elementary School operating out of Delta State following explosion

Hayes Cooper/Delta State
Students from Hayes Cooper Elementary School were greeted by Delta State University football players when they arrived on the Cleveland campus Tuesday morning. (Photo courtesy of Delta State University)

Faculty and staff at Hayes Cooper Elementary School in the Mississippi Delta were forced to relocate after an explosion that sent a pair of teachers to the hospital, prompting one of the state’s universities to step in and offer immediate assistance.

According to Cleveland School District Superintendent Dr. Lisa Bramuchi, the incident occurred last Thursday at 7:25 a.m. at the education center in Merigold. An emergency evacuation plan immediately ensued. Students in the facility were transported to the Merigold Community Storm Shelter while two buses that were en route to school were taken to the parking lot of a local crawfish restaurant to wait for their parents or guardians to pick up their pupils.

The incident, which remains under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, forced a drastic shift in operations for the school. Fortunately, Delta State University was prepared to step in and offer a facility for students to continue to receive in-person education.

“Luckily, my team had some contact with the district and had some students there. A lot of our faculty and staff have students at that school. So I got the fill-in,” Delta State president Dr. Dan Ennis said on Good Things with Rebecca Turner.

“I was texting with my team and I just reached out to my good friend, the superintendent, and said, ‘I know you’re busy, but if we can help, just let us know.’ I didn’t want to be in the middle of their crisis, but I just wanted to let them know that we were there to be of assistance when we could be helpful.”

Classes for the elementary pupils began at DSU on Tuesday with functions taking place in the college’s education building. Students, upon arrival at the Cleveland campus, were given a warm and hospitable welcome by some of the most popular and iconic figures of the Delta community.

“The students got off the bus the first day and the football team was there to greet them — the Statesman and the Okra [mascots] were too,” Bramuchi said. “It’s just been a phenomenal reception and a great way to get back to school.”

Delta State/Hayes Cooper
Photo courtesy of Delta State University

Bramuchi estimates that Hayes Cooper will remain on DSU’s campus for the remainder of the semester as investigators continue to look into the dangerous incident that occurred last week. Sources close to the scene told SuperTalk Mississippi News that a gas leak is believed to be the root cause of the explosion, though that has not yet been officially confirmed.

“Right now, we’re planning for the rest of the year to be at Delta State because until all the investigative part has been completed, we cannot occupy that building,” Bramucha said. “Now we’re beginning to make plans for the summer and to see where we go from here.”

As for the teachers who sustained injuries, Bramuchi confirmed that they are continuing to recover in the hospital and is hopeful they can soon return home.

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