RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After remaining open for months, William Fox Elementary School’s playground recently closed. City leaders said this is a sign of an exciting milestone to come for the restoration project.

The Richmond centerpiece has remained uncovered — vulnerable to the elements — ever since the school burned down in February 2022. During a school board meeting on Monday, May 1, Superintendent Jason Kamras said roof trusses should begin going up this month.

Many Richmond parents, like Lauren Methena, are thrilled to hear of this soon-to-come tangible progress.

“I feel relief,” Methena said.

Methena is a mother of four. She has enjoyed watching her children play on Fox Elementary School’s playground since it reopened.

“That sense of community and continuity just it makes me feel warm inside,” Methena said.

Its closure is bittersweet to parents like Methena. While children lose a place to play, the closure signals growing momentum in the school’s reconstruction. Parents told 8News that they see a new roof as a pivotal milestone in the school’s tumultuous timeline.

“Without a roof, you can’t make any progress,” Methena said. “They’re literally at a standstill. So to see a roof, you know, go up will definitely be the biggest sign of progress that there is.”

In many aspects, building back after the fire has been a slow process. The Richmond Fire Department never determined a cause for the fire. Additionally, back in February, Virginia’s General Assembly rejected a bill that would have put $15 million toward the project. Parents told 8News that they’re ready for a fresh start on the 110-year-old school’s next chapter.

“I would hope that this is sort of a new starting point,” Methena said. “We’ve made progress here, but let’s not let that overshadow all the work that still needs to be done to make sure all of our schools are safe for all of our kids.”

Unanswered funding questions still linger and cloud the school’s future. Superintendent Kamras met with the school division’s insurance company last week. While the leader couldn’t share many details with parents, or the public, he promised updates soon.

In the meantime, community members are eager to see the demolished, skeletal building start to once again resemble the beloved school.

“Fox Elementary has always been a rallying point for the community,” Methena said. “I want to see it be that again.”

In Richmond’s most recent budget, Mayor Levar Stoney allocated $15 million toward the school’s restoration. The City is still waiting to hear back regarding potential grant money from the Virginia Department of Education.