CHICO, Calif. — On Monday, at least 300 new students from Paradise will be joining the Chico Unified School District as they head back to school for the first time since November 8.
The Chico Unified School District says that they are welcoming the students and families who want to join their district with open arms, since the Camp Fire swept through the towns of Paradise, Magalia and Concow earlier this month.
Although the Paradise Unified School District is still operating as is its own entity, Chico Unified says they are in support of that and want to be there for the families interested in enrolling in the Chico Unified School District.
"If they register with Chico Unified, they are not a part of Paradise anymore. We've been trying to work with Paradise too because we think the best thing for these kids right now is to stay with their teacher they had up in Paradise and keep that connection. Paradise is setting up some opportunities to keep those kids connected with Paradise. If they want to stay connected with Paradise, that is great but we have our doors open for families wanting to enroll their kids in our district." said Ted Sullivan, the Director of Elementary Education for the Chico Unified School District. "Everybody registers online and we at the district office pull all of the registrations in and we start looking at where we have space available." Sullivan added.
Sullivan also said the registration takes about 15 minutes to complete and parents can give the district a preference of the school they want to enroll their child in, while also factoring the school closest to the area they are currently residing in. To register with the Chico Unified School District, you can click here. Sullivan says once the online registration is complete, someone at the Chico Unified School District office will get in touch. He says the district has had about 300 students register so far and they have been able to accommodate all of them.
This is all ahead of the district going back to school on Monday. The students and staff have been out of school for approximately three weeks, although school was not originally scheduled to take place during the week of the Thanksgiving holiday.
However, Sullivan says that the entire district, including the teachers and staff, have been adjusting their curriculum and going through trauma training to prepare for students to return to school on Monday, December 3. They've missed about two weeks of academic learning in total.
Sullivan said that the district has been able to accommodate all of the students, but that the middle schools will be most impacted by the influx of kids.
"For all the educators in our community, we are wanting to get back to work and we are wanting to help our kids," said Pedro Caldera, the Principal at Chico Junior High school. Caldera added he is expecting at least 15 new students at his school on Monday.
In addition, the students at Chico Junior High School painted posters and hung them up around the school to welcome their new classmates from Paradise on Monday. They signs said things like 'Love is thicker than smoke,' and 'We love you Paradise.'
"If you're from Paradise, what you're going through might make it hard to start in a new school, but we hope that we can talk to you and just know that we care. We care a lot," said Shangxu Her, a student at Chico Junior High School.
Meanwhile, the district had orientations set up at various different schools on Friday to welcome the students from Paradise to their new classrooms, show them around and meet some of the staff and students. They say that counselors will be available to help students going through trauma, and that they are confident their waiver will be approved by the State of California, so that the students and staff won't have to worry about making up school days at the end of the year.