By MORGAN MANNS
Through the effort and support of various community entities, Fostoria Junior/Senior High School students will be back in an education setting come Wednesday.
Officials announced Friday more details on when, where and how the students will continue their education after a small fire temporarily closed the Park Avenue school building.
The Fostoria Learning Center will host students in grades 9-12 in the weeks to come. Staff will use a variety of areas throughout the new facility with the majority of classes being taught in the unfinished portion on the east side.
FJSHS Principal Drew Bauman said the large spaces will be converted to individual classrooms. Most teachers will be able to teach from the same space throughout the day while a handful will rotate throughout different classroom spaces.
St. Wendelin Catholic School officials agreed Thursday to temporarily host students in grades 7 and 8. The junior high students will be located in the south wing of the building where the old high school classrooms were. Classes will be set up in the rooms as well as the gymnasium.
Staff and students will also utilize furniture, such as desks, tables and chairs, from St. Wendelin.
“It means the world to us that people are willing to help us in a time of need,” Superintendent Andrew Sprang said. “It is important to help each other out and support one another for our kids. Both (St. Wendelin and the Fostoria Learning Center) have been very accommodating to let us set up and are willing to take on the challenges of several hundred extra people being in their facilities each day for the next several weeks.”
As of Friday, Sprang said officials were still working out the details of logistics such as transportation and food services but that they were “very close to being complete.”
All details will be finalized by Monday, when the district plans to host parent/student meetings at Fostoria Intermediate Elementary School. Families of 7th and 8th grade students will meet at 6 p.m. while families of students in grades 9-12 will meet at 7 p.m.
Students are expected to return to class in their assigned temporary spaces Wednesday.
Before then, Sprang said the Learning Center will need to be furnished — with items from the facility as well as items donated by various companies around town.
“Teachers will continue to set up and work on developing their modified lessons for use with the students,” he said.
Additionally, the district is working with St. Wendelin to relocate the boys’ basketball games and practices, according to Athletic Director/Assistant Principal Michele Wolf. The girls’ games will be played at the Fostoria Intermediate Elementary School; however, their senior night will be played at St. Wendelin.
Wolf said the district has had to postpone or cancel two events due to the fire: the boys’ basketball game against Elmwood scheduled for Friday has been postponed and the Junior High Chuck Mason Wrestling Invitational was canceled as no other building is big enough to accommodate the number of teams attending.
In addition, Tuesday’s home varsity wrestling match has been moved to Oregon Clay.
“Moving forward it appears that we may have to move one or two dates around here or there to make things work but I am really looking forward to playing some games at St. Wendelin as I think the community will up that gym and create a great experience for our players and fans,” Wolf said.
The blaze that closed the junior/senior high school building was reported at 5:09 a.m. Jan. 9 and was found in the boiler room of the junior/senior high school. The fire was extinguished in less than 10 minutes; however, it caused a power outage, which affected the phone and internet systems district-wide.
Fostoria City Schools closed all of its buildings that day but electricity was restored and the elementary students were able to return to school Jan. 10.
Smoke that traveled through the ductwork at the junior/senior high school caused the building to be closed the remainder of the week. Officials are working with Cleaner & Dryer Restoration and Construction on getting the air quality and the rooms up to a clean, safe standard for students and staff with a completion date of 6-8 weeks.
Beginning today, a team from Cleaner & Dryer Restoration and Construction will be working 24-hour days until the work is completed, at which point an air quality test will be performed before students and staff can reoccupy the building.
Sprang said the cleaning crews will be cleaning everything from the floor up, including ductwork, as well as replacing ceiling tiles.
Staff members spent all of Thursday morning cleaning out lockers, placing all items from each locker into a box labeled with that locker number and student’s name. The boxes were sealed with instructions on how to take care of the items inside as well as the student’s report card.
Staff then spent a lot of Friday preparing their space at St. Wendelin Catholic School and attending meetings to better understand how the next several weeks will unfold.
“I just want to say ‘thank you’ (to the community) for the patience and for the assistance in getting the answers and resources that we need,” Sprang said. “There have been so many that have offered to help, point us in the direction of resources, attend meeting, make phone calls and the list goes on.”