Speed Reads

Hurricane Harvey aftermath

Houston public schools just opened, two weeks after Harvey canceled the start of the school year

Houston's school year started on Monday, two weeks late due to the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. About 80 percent of the Houston Independent School District's more than 280 schools were open, with more slated to open in the next few weeks. Houston ISD, with about 215,000 students spread over 312 square miles, is the largest district in Texas, and if you include the nearby Cy-Fair and Katy districts, the number of Houston-area kids balloons to about 600,000. Two schools in Katy and one in Cy-Fair were closed due to damage. About 270 teachers in the Houston ISD were unable to make it to school due to flood-related issues, school officials said.

Returning to school, even a different school, was a welcome return to normalcy after the flooding for many students, and for others — especially those in shelters — a relief from boredom. School officials are preparing for traumatized students and other problems, and Superintendent Richard Carranza estimated that about a third of the district's $700 million budget will be eaten up by storm recovery efforts. But thanks in part to a $1 million donation from Salesforce founder Marc Beinoff, the district will provide three meals a day to all students all year, regardless of family income.

Houston still has plenty of cleaning up to do. For example, much of the remaining floodwater is contaminated by fecal matter and other hazardous toxins, water testing organized by The New York Times shows.