Fernway students start school at different buildings after fire

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio-- Thousands of students are back at school on Wednesday across Northeast Ohio, including those in the Shaker Heights City School District. Many of the students are in a new building after their elementary school caught fire over the summer.

There is still no word on what caused the fire at the historic Fernway Elementary School on July 10. Crews are working to salvage the school, but there was no way it would be ready before this academic year. For the past month, the district has been working to figure out what to do with the more than 300 kindergarten to fourth graders.

Starting on Wednesday, the Fernway students are now divided among three schools: Boulevard, Onaway and Woodbury schools.

“We feel very good about today,” said Scott Stephens, Shaker Heights executive director of communications. “We are grateful for all the support and feedback. It was a collective effort to make sure these students had a smooth start to an outstanding school year.”

Stephens said their main goal was to make sure the Fernway staff members were still with the Fernway students and that was accomplished. For example, the third grade teachers were moved with the third grade students, the first graders are still with their first grade teachers.

He also said the Fernway students have a lot to look forward to. Fernway did not have a lunchroom and now the students get to experience one in their temporary schools. Same goes with transportation. Most of the students walked to Fernway, but now they are taking the school bus for the first time, which many of the kids are excited about.

“There are a lot of moving parts here: transportation, food service, parking, all kinds of things,” Stephens said. “People have been literally working 24/7 to make this a good experience today.”

They have also panned a welcome ceremony for the Fernway students. There will be a flag-raising ceremony at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday at Woodbury School.

As for Fernway Elementary, the school board met a week ago and issued a statement saying it intended to seek proposals from architectural groups assessing what can be done with the building. It will then choose from the group and hopefully can get in and rebuild the historic building.

Continuing coverage of this story here