Teachers in Butte County Continue Helping Students Despite Losing Homes to Camp Fire

CHICO -- Butte County schools are closed because of the Camp Fire and the Superintendent of Schools announced Friday that all schools will remain closed through the end of the month.

There are 32,000 students in Butte County who are not in class right now. Many of them don’t have a school and a lot of them lost their homes.

Now, some teachers from Paradise are taking it upon themselves to help elementary school students feel a sense of normalcy.

By listening to the story of thanksgiving, story time inside the Chico library is how some elementary age children from Paradise escape from their painful reality.

“It is therapeutic and it’s good for the kids. It gives them a sense of life again,” said Annie Finney.

Finney teaches second grade at Children’s Community Charter School in Paradise.

Her classroom burned in the Camp Fire along with most of her students’ homes.

But she’s helping to bring the kids together, to read, to play and to see familiar faces in a familiar setting; because many of these kids are hurting.

“It hurts a lot in my heart,” said second-grader, Kennedy. “To see that I don’t have a house anymore.”

Kennedy lost her home and so did her friend, Georgia.

“It’s not OK. It’s burned,” Georgia said.

Kennedy states that, “it’s so hard to take all this in. It’s like… its just hard to take all in.”

The support is pouring in for victims of the Camp Fire but there’s one thing the students need the most, according to Superintendent of Schools, Tim Taylor.

“I’ve had so many people give me thoughts and prayers; you know what I need first? Here’s what we all need: 100 portables here in this county right away to get these kids in a safe class,” said Taylor.

The superintendent choked up while making a plea; “we need your help,” he said.

It’ll be more than two weeks until students return to class but in the meantime, teachers like Finney will do what they can to provide some stability and comfort.

“Were taking it one day at a time and doing what we need to do in the moment,” Finney said.

The superintendent says December 3rd is the date he’s aiming for the students to be back in class and what they really need are those portables - whether they come from the government or they’re donated.

The superintendent of schools says in addition to portable classrooms, he also wants the students to have some entertainment - he is calling on celebrities - like Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen and the NBA to help the kids of Butte County and lift their spirits.

Taylor says he estimates 90 percent of the district staff lost their homes, but they are still dedicated to helping to get students back to school as soon as possible.