VANCOUVER, Wash. - Following a devastating fire last Sunday, about 500 students from Crestline Elementary School are heading back to classes at several schools across the Vancouver area on Thursday.
Teachers, parents and Evergreen School District officials have scrambled to make the transition as seamless as possible by keeping classmates together with teachers they have had in the past, but some changes will be impossible to ignore.
One major change will be just getting to school. Students will be bussed from near their homes to a high school and then bussed again to one of five schools for classes.
Many of the students have never ridden a school bus before and some parents are worried about the new complications.
"I'm still nervous about the whole transition, it's really easy to lose a 5-year-old," one mom told KATU News. "They get lost in a crowd real fast."
She did say that teachers will be riding the buses with students during the second leg of the route to their new schools.
Carol Fenstermacher with the Evergreen School District said bus drivers will be keeping an eye on the kids and explaining to their new passengers how the school bus system works.
She said bus traffic control personnel who are familiar with the students will be at each new school making sure the kids get on the right bus. "There will be a lot of familiar faces along the way," she said.
Once at the school, students should feel at home as teachers and school officials have tried to recreate the look and feel of the students' old classrooms.
The children will also still be going to Crestline per se, with their report cards and other documents still showing them in attendance at Crestline.
The students are being taken to one of five schools in the Evergreen district:
- Kindergarten students will go to Mill Plain Elementary School.
- Students in the first grade will go to Ellsworth Elementary School.
- Second graders will go to Columbia Valley Elementary School.
- Third graders and students in the Academic Learning Center (ALC) will go to Riverview Elementary School.
- Fourth and fifth graders will go to Fircrest Elementary School.
The cause of the fire at Crestline is still under investigation and officials said the process is "painstakingly slow." They said an announcement about the possible cause of the fire is likely still weeks away.
The school was completely destroyed by the fire.
Three Vancouver Burgerville locations will be holding a fundraiser for Crestline Thursday evening. Click here for more information.