The Boulder Valley School District hasn’t yet decided if classes can resume at all schools as planned after winter break on Wednesday, but in the meantime is working to provide immediate support to families displaced by the Marshall Fire.
“We know and understand the importance in a crisis of getting schools open,” Boulder Valley Superintendent Rob Anderson said. “We’re going to work incredibly hard to do that and to take care of our employees and families.”
— Boulder Valley School District (@BVSDcolorado) January 1, 2022
The school district set up a page at bvsd.org to provide updates and resources related to the fire, including a form for students and staff members who need grief counseling or other mental health support from the district’s trauma response team.
Anderson, who lives in the fire area and evacuated along with his family, said trauma support will be ongoing.
“The reality that a lot of our kids woke up to today, it’s going to take some time to set in,” he said. “The homes I’m seeing, there’s nothing left.”
Displaced families also can contact their school principal or fill out an online form to let the district know about their situation and needs. Displaced students will qualify for support under the federal McKinney-Vento Act, a law that creates a safety net for students without adequate housing. That support includes district transportation to their home schools.
About 2,000 homes are in the Marshall Fire burn area, and officials are still evaluating how many homes were damaged or destroyed.
None of the Superior or Louisville schools were physically damaged in the fire, based on security cameras and monitoring systems. The district’s maintenance teams also were allowed into the area Friday morning to check each school.
Some are smoky and several are without electricity, gas, water or general public road access. Opening those schools will depend on the restoration of utilities and heat, reopening of streets and impacts of the fire on staffing, as teachers and other employees have lost homes, according to district officials.
District officials said they hope to have a better understanding of the impacts to schools in both the fire area, as well as potentially in other areas of the district, in the next day or two.
For teachers and other staff members, the district has canceled all professional learning and training events scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.
“This last year has already been hard enough for employees, who have given everything they had to support our kids during a pandemic,” Anderson said. “We will do everything we can to support our employees.”
Impact on Education, Boulder Valley’s foundation, is accepting donations for students and staff members displaced by the fire through its Critical Needs Fund. To donate, go to impactoneducation.org/donate.
The magnitude of this tragedy is unimaginable. But so is our community’s willingness to help. We are standing by and ready to support students, families and staff who are impacted. https://t.co/YRS8eLps8P
— Impact on Education (@ImpactOnEd) December 31, 2021
“Like we do in every tragedy, we are mobilizing to support those in BVSD who need our help,” Impact on Education Executive Director Allison Billings said in a written statement. “Needs are currently being assessed, but with so many staff and students displaced, we know that there will be critical needs that we will be called upon to provide to ensure that students can continue learning when classes resume next week.”