NAPA (KPIX 5) – With Napa County residents trying to return to a sense of normalcy in the wake of the Wine Country wildfires, on Monday students went back to class as all Napa public schools reopened.

In many ways, the spirit at Napa Valley Unified schools is even stronger.

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“The love in the air is thicker than the smoke,” said Napa High School senior Malia Blackmon, quoting a popular sign that can be seen all over town.

It was the thick, unhealthy smoke from the Wine Country fires that forced county schools to close for two weeks. But with clearer skies Monday, the district welcomed back 18,000 students.

Athletic teams will also resume games this week.

“We were kind of stuck at home and we didn’t really know what to do because, for a long time, the air quality was really bad, said Napa High School senior Leann Rody. So it felt like cabin fever. Like we were going crazy inside.”

The school board is considering ways to make up for the lost class time.

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“We are hoping we can get enough help as we can with, for example, college applications, since we did miss two weeks,” said Napa High senior Uilses Cid.

Right now, the district is helping students by providing free lunch to anyone who needs it without requiring paperwork this week. Each school will also have mental health services on campus to help students cope with the disaster.

“We want to give them some time to process it has been a very traumatic couple weeks,” said Napa Valley Unified School District Director Elizabeth Emmett.

“What’s super comforting to me is so many fire fighters and first responders came here to help us, saud Rody. Every time I think about it, I am so thankful that they are here to help us.”

In addition to all county public grade schools, Napa Valley College will resume classes Monday, as will Justin-Siena High School.

Meanwhile, Santa Rosa city schools will be reopening in phases starting this week. Nine elementary schools are set to re-open this Friday. Those elementary schools are:

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  • Biella
  • Brook Hill
  • Burbank
  • Hidden Valley
  • Lehman
  • Steele Lane
  • Lincoln
  • Monroe
  • Proctor Terrace

Four middle and high schools will also re-open the same day now that the district has enough staff available. Those schools are:

  • Rincon Valley Middle
  • Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter
  • Maria Carrillo High
  • Piner High