The Taft Independent School District announced Friday that their staff will be able to return to schools Sept. 20 to begin setting up classrooms, and they hope to have the schools ready for students to return by Sept. 25.

Many schools in the district, along with other surrounding school districts, were forced to close their doors due to the devastation left behind by Hurricane Harvey.

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In a post on the Taft ISD Facebook page, Superintendent Joe Lopez said they had their final damage assessment meeting with the NorthStar Disaster Recovery Team and were told the campuses would be released back into the district's control Sept. 25.

Lopez explains that while Sept. 25 is the date they are hoping to start school, the date is subject to change based on construction, renovation and repairs at the their campuses. It could happen sooner, and it could happen later. Still, Lopez said they are glad to have an estimated start date and are working with the disaster recovery team in any way they can.

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The superintendent also explained that this weekend crews will be out along McIntyre Avenue, College Street, Victoria Avenue and New Rincon Road working to cleanup asbestos containing materials. The area they will be cleaning runs from the district's administration building to the high school, and while the materials they are cleaning are not considered harmful in their present form, the district is asking that people avoid the area this weekend.

Lopez said that the district will be contacting families to assist them with lost school supplies, clothing needs, etc., as they prepare for the first day of school. Their administration office will remain open to answer any questions parents might have.

"I want to thank you once again for your patience and unwavering support as we continue to work towards getting our buildings up and running," Lopez wrote in the Facebook post. "Our foremost and most important goal from day one has been to ensure that we have a safe learning environment for students and staff. Although, our facilities will still need work for the next few months and possibly longer, we know that together as ONE TEAM, ONE TAFT; we can get through anything. ONE TEAM, ONE TAFT exemplifies a Community that has not only weathered and survived a powerful storm, but a Community that will be even stronger from it. In many ways, we are TAFT ISD STRONG!!!"