By Heather Janssen

PLACERVILLE (CBS13) – As the Caldor Fire rages on, schools aren’t in session. But district leaders and community members want to make sure the learning never stops.

Inside the El Dorado County Library in Placerville, there’s more than just books. It’s easy to find locals calming the chaos from the Caldor Fire.

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“Every day we grow. More kids show up, more families engage,” said Dusty Botting, a program coordinator with the Camino Union Elementary School District.

It’s at the Placerville library students and teachers gather twice a day to seek out a sense of community. That includes Emily Walker, who’s both a teacher and a parent. While she tutors a small group, her son works in another. Their school is in the Caldor Fire evacuation zone, so it’s closed.

“All over again those feelings of uncertainty come back,” Walker said. “It’s nice to see their smiling faces.”

The closure was unprecedented and unpredictable, and left much of the community on edge and emotional.

“We know that children are going through a lot of trauma,” said Jesus Cordova, a family specialist with the El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE).

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The library, the Camino school district and EDCOE joined forced to provide activities for students during the week while school isn’t in session.

“They get to see their friends again and getting a little bit of time with their teachers,” said Noel Mittelstadt-Wright, a parent whose son attends the different learning sessions. “It’s changed so much this week.”

It’s especially cathartic for evacuees, like Botting, who finds purpose in helping the kids.

“Taking all of that anxiety, that nervous energy and focusing on the kids,” Botting said. “This is exactly what I needed.”

The library learning hub fills many voids in the Caldor Fire community. All students impacted in the county are welcome, and a free meal is provided once a day. There are also tables of donated items for evacuees, as well.

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Anyone wishing to help in any way can donate to the El Dorado Community Foundation.

Heather Janssen