BUTTE COUNTY (CBS13) — Butte County students and staff are regaining a sense of normalcy more than three weeks after the deadliest fire in California history devastated the towns of Paradise and Magalia.
In many cases, students commuted from shelters to their makeshift classrooms today. Some were set up in churches, nearby schools, a mall, and even a boys and girls club.
Their resolve and resiliency were on full display Monday as many reunited for the first time since the fire.
Kelly Wang showed up to her new campus at the Chico mall ready to reconnect. Within minutes she saw her English teacher Jori Krulder.
“I just wanted to come over and say hi,” Wang said. “She’s my favorite teacher.”
Krulder said Kelly used to come into her classroom every morning and cheer her up.
When the Camp Fire decimated the towns of Paradise and Magalia, more than 4,800 students were displaced, along with 379 teachers.
“They have lost their schools, but not their hope… so today is the first day we provide that and we offer safety and security when you add hope — kids can help us move forward together,” said Butte County Superintendent Tim Taylor.
While the first day back was filled with a lot of hugs and tears, a sense of relief was in the air as students and staff returned to a familiar routine.
“I lost my house along with my family and that’s been has been hard, but its harder to have been away from them,” Krulder said.
According to district officials, the schools will have to operate in the temporary spaces at least through the next semester. They said a more long-term solution could be in place as early as next month.
“Paradise Unified isn’t buildings. It’s the teachers and the students and the parents and the families. That’s what Paradise Unified is. And we are Ridge strong and we will stay together,” said Paradise School District Michelle John.
District leaders were very quick to point out the need for long-term help. They plan to rebuild all 14 schools that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the fire.
The district is hoping to tap into some Measure Y bond money, $61 million that was approved by voters two days before the Camp Fire started.