It took a little longer than expected, but the students at Rome City School District are headed back to the classroom today.
In August, Staley Elementary School flooded. The school had been dealing with long-time structural issues, and the flooding added air quality issues. The district then decided to close the school permanently, leaving administrators scrambling.
They divided about 540 students among six other elementary schools and pre-kindergarten. They shuffled school assignments, class rosters and bus routes. Some routes and ride times will change throughout the first week of school as leaders continue to work to accommodate family requests.
Some of that wasn’t set until Friday, but Superintendent Peter Blake says it was all worth it.
“We kept families together,” Blake said. “So that has created a little bit of an imbalance in some of our schools because when you do that you could have a family of five that needs to stay together and that’s going to affect all the grade levels in a building.”
The superintendent says parents have been surprisingly understanding, and even during the uncertainty, everyone was very positive.
He says if it was a normal year, without COVID-19, that might not be the case, but he’s glad to get the students back in the classroom sooner rather than later.
“It’s good to see kids doing kid things,” said Blake. “It’s been rough all over the place for all superintendents, for all school boards, school districts. I don’t think anybody wants to mandate anything right now. We want to worry about educating kids."
Over the weekend, the marching band had its first competition of the season. Fall sports were competing, and it was another step toward normalcy for the Rome students.
The district used emergency closure days and superintendent's conference days last week when it was closed.