MIDDLETOWN (KPIX) — Students in Middletown are going back to school Monday for the first time since the devastating Valley Fire.

All schools began at 9:00 a.m. and classes for students at Cobb Elementary School were held in portables behind the middle school.

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Inspection teams have gone through each school to make sure there is no structural damage, and there has been a thorough cleanup in all the facilities.

The superintendent sent a message to students saying she is looking forward to welcoming everyone back. She said she understands if some students aren’t ready to return yet.

Kim Ferguson and her family lost their home in the Valley fire. But today, even though everything is gone, they came back so they can go to school with their community.

“The people here are so important to us and this was our home,” she said.

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Ferguson is a teacher at Cobb Elementary school and her daughters go to the middle and high schools. They say getting back into the routine of going to school is important.

“It’s been crazy a lot of moving around a lot of places,” said daughter Aly. “It’s just adjusting and getting used to things going back to normal.”

“A little displaced a little disjointed but I know when I see my kids their students their smiling faces I know it’s going to feel better,” adds mom.

(CBS)

(CBS)


Teachers and staff all wore special t-shirts and greeted as many kids as they could. Counselors were available for students who need someone to talk to.

CHP officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and even Smokey the Bear came out to greet the kids and make them feel welcome.

Most of the firefighters here were putting out hot spots last night and plan on going back to the fire once all the kids are back in school.

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More than 76,000 acres were scorched in the Valley Fire, which is being called one of the largest fires in California history. Containment is at 97%. Cal Fire expects full containment in a week. Four people died in the blaze. It destroyed almost 1300 homes, many belonging to the students’ families.