Boulder Valley schools set to return after historic fires destroy nearly 1k homes

District faces criticism for returning 'too soon'
Louisville Marshall Fire
Posted at 5:06 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 11:43:57-05

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — Ready or not, Boulder Valley schools will resume classes this Wednesday.

“We feel incredibly fortunate," said Randy Barber, spokesman with the Boulder Valley School District. "It’s almost a miracle, really, that our buildings were untouched through it all."

Fireside Elmentary was literally fireside Thursday night, with homes burning two blocks away.

Barber says schools will reopen this Wednesday as regularly scheduled after Christmas break.

"By having our buildings open, we know that we can support students," Barber said. “Having that place where people can gather, where students can come back, where a parent is able to put their student in a safe, supportive place.”

But reopening doesn't come without criticism.

"It’s a rush to go back to school - would be a nice way of putting it,” said Geoffrey Hart, who has children in Boulder schools, including one at Fireside. “Schools don’t even have running water. So, in the middle of a pandemic, the kids should wash their hands how?”

Hart’s home survived, while many of his neighbors weren't as fortunate.

“There’s still smoldering fire as kids are going to be waiting for a bus,” Hart said. “You drive by all the burned down houses, it’s a little tone-deaf to put the kids through this this quickly. People don’t have clothes to wear. My wife is supposed to go back for the district, and she doesn’t have any business attire. She has a couple outfits. Pushing this hard doesn’t show empathy or match the needs of our community."

Nathan and Trent Brenner's mom is a 7th and 8th grade math teacher. They point out that other families might have concerns with kids not being in school.

“Families maybe can’t get Wi-Fi access wherever they’re trying to live temporarily," Trent said. “Maybe making sure kids can get food and stuff, too - so having schools open could be important for that."

The district says it understands all sides and is trying to be compassionate to those who lost so much.

"This is incredibly raw for our families,” Barber said. “And we understand where they’re coming from. If you’re able to come on day one, great. If not, we’re completely flexible to be here when you’re ready.”

Barber says the utility companies have prioritized schools.

“All of the emergency managers, utilities, everyone at the table understood how important it was to get schools open,” Barber said.

From housing to food banks and everything else in between, there are many ways people affected by the Marshall Fire can get help — and how you can help — following last week's devastating wildfire. Click here for more.