RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – It has been nearly two weeks since a fire destroyed William Fox Elementary School and Richmond’s First Baptist Church is stepping up to help students with virtual learning.
“We knew there was a pretty big need,” Amanda Lott, minister to children and families told 8News.
While Richmond Public Schools leaders work on a long-term plan to get students into another building, Fox students are temporarily learning virtually.
Lott says as soon as the news broke, her team immediately sprang into action.
“This is a trauma situation. We’re doing a lot of trauma care here just by being present,” she explained. “Parents have said I would’ve had to quit my job if you didn’t have a place for my child.”
With the help of more than 100 volunteers, 64 Fox Elementary students are able to safely learn at First Baptist. Volunteers also help serve meals and with extracurricular activities like art, yoga and music.
“I wish everybody who’s involved in helping Fox in this time after the tragedy, could’ve been in our dining room when they arrived this morning,” Lott said. “There were some tears and some fears, but when they walked in and saw people that they knew – they were children. There was not this shadow of something that happened, but – there’s my friend. It was loud, it was rowdy and it was beautiful.”
Volunteer Meredith Carr said that despite the tragedy, the first day was filled with joy.
“They’re just getting back to a little bit of normal, and then this happens,” she said. “And you think — how could this happen? But these kids are so cheerful.”
Senior pastor Jim Somerville says the operation is a team effort.
“We feel the pain of this loss,” he said. “It is our neighborhood school as well. We want to stand with you. We want to be helpful to you in any way that we can.”
Fox Principal Daniela Jacobs has said she’s hoping virtual learning will continue for no more than three weeks. Church leaders say they will stay open as long as needed.
“I hope when the three weeks is up that the community doesn’t forget,” Lott said. “That the community continues to say we still love you, we still want to help you, we still want to support you.”