Wildwood Elementary School students are adjusting to life at a new location.
“It’s still the same school — we’re just in a different building,” an optimistic Wildwood Grade 4 student Mackenzie Bourgeois-Thiessen said from her new classroom at Marie Sharpe elementary Tuesday.
The students had their rural school shut down April 20 due to health concerns after mould was discovered in the crawl space under the gymnasium April 16.
Wildwood principal and teacher Kelly McLennan said the entire staff and 33 students have been set up in two classrooms within Marie Sharpe and that everything, right down to the shelves and children’s desks, were moved and ready for students Monday morning.
“Everyone has been so welcoming. The staff have all bent over backwards to make us feel like part of the school,” said McLennan of being at Marie Sharpe, noting the extra efforts put in by the district maintenance staff.
“It really is like they took our school and plunked it here.”
As the children and staff are settling into their new surroundings, School District 27 trustees were expected to be given an update at their regular board meeting Tuesday night regarding the situation.
“At this point we are still waiting for test results on the mould,” district superintendent Mark Thiessen told the Tribune/Weekend Advisor. “We don’t know the full extent of the problem yet.”
Thiessen said the school medical officer with Interior Health has been informed and will be sending an environmental health officer to tour the school.
He said board members certainly don’t have enough information at this point to make any longer term decisions surrounding the school, which is now closed for the remainder of the school year.
“Everybody wants to know if this is the end of the Wildwood school, and the truth is we just don’t know yet,” Thiessen said.
Thiessen noted in deciding where to place the children all options were considered, including reopening one of the district’s empty schools for the students.
He said the old McLeese Lake school was much too far in disrepair, the Glendale location also would need significant capital investment, while the district was dealing with “tenancy issues” at the former Kwaleen school.
Thiessen wanted to thank staff at both Wildwood and Marie Sharpe for working hard to make the transition for students as seamless as possible, as well as maintenance staff for their extra efforts.