Why some Richmond parents are concerned about what is next for Fox students

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Posted at 6:45 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 05:08:47-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- It has been more than three weeks since a catastrophic fire destroyed Richmond's Fox Elementary School. On Monday night, RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras will recommend a location to move students so they can resume in-person learning.

First Baptist Church is the location that Kamras said is the best option for students and staff as it is just a half-mile from Fox and has plenty of outdoor and indoor space.

"I do feel what many parents have said is that, yes, being in person is first and foremost the most essential thing," Fox Elementary School PTA president Katie Ricard said.

Unfortunately, like other locations that were considered, aftercare can't be hosted at the location.

Ricard said that over half of the families take part in aftercare and it is something that they would like to figure out as best possible.

"I think he [Kamras] does recognize that they need to try to see if there's a solution but, of course, you know it all just depends on availability and transportation," Ricard said.

Several school board members said that because it is not school property, they do not have to sign off on the recommendation for the new location, allowing Kamras to move forward with the choice.

In a best-case scenario, students will resume in-person learning at the new location on March 21.

"I think a real pro of First Baptist is that they have a gym, they have some green space outside," Ricard said.

The church said that they won't charge RPS rent, but will ask the school district to pay for utilities and some other incidentals. The church has already been helping Fox since the fire as over 60 students and several teachers have set up in their classrooms during the virtual school day.

"We're here to stand with the community in the midst of this. They've had a lot of tragedy in the past few weeks and certainly the school year, with the kids going virtual and then masking and coming back and now a fire. It's an honor to stand with them in the midst of this transition as they move from tragedy, hopefully, to a place of triumph because we know the Fox community is strong and they will rebuild," Dr. Allison Collier, an associate pastor and minister of Christian Formation at the church, said.

CBS6 Asked if any concerns had been raised about classes being held in a church. Neither the PTA nor church leaders said it had.

"As you've seen walking around, most of our classroom spaces are fairly generic. I certainly understand people's concerns that they may have," Collier said.

School board vice-chair Kenya Gibson added that the administration said they would do their due diligence on the issue. She said she reviewed the presentation and is thankful to see more information provided.

"I just think it's important that we do our due diligence to ensure that we've, you know, looked under every rock and considered all of the factors in that decision and hopefully move forward very quickly," Gibson said.

Kamras said that he also plans to poll families about whether they would like to move to Clark Springs Elementary or finish out the school year at the church. Members of the school administration said they hope to have that school ready for use in mid-April.



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