Kids, Teachers Affected by Camp Fire Head Back to School — and a Sense of Normalcy

OROVILLE -- For most students, the first day of school was months ago.

But kids in Paradise went back to school again on Monday, nearly one month after the Camp Fire destroyed many of their homes.

"I get to be with my friends and I get to see my school," fourth-grader Emily said. "Well, my new school."

On Monday, many of them saw their friends and teachers for the first time since the fire.

"I'm seeing all my old friends and getting to see my old teachers," fourth-grader Cinthya said.

Other schools and churches across Butte County have opened their doors and cleared classroom space so students displaced by the fire could stay with the same teachers and classmates, even on different campuses.

"Their teachers went and moved things from their classrooms. So we have definitely impacted their program and just appreciate their sacrifice and how they have worked alongside us,"  Ponderosa Elementary Principal Ed Gregorio said.

The Butte County Office of Education has also brought in counselors to almost every classroom to make sure everyone affected by the fire feels supported.

"Our kids are traumatized. Their families are traumatized," Paradise Unified School District Superintendent Michelle John said. "They drove through flames."

But more than anything, walking onto their new campuses marked a big step in getting back to a normal routine.

"It's so important to get back to a sense of normalcy and we are just going to wrap our arms around the students and provide them with the love and the care and support that they need," Gregorio said.

And it seemed the students were just as eager to get back on track as their teachers were.