By MORGAN MANNS
FOR THE COURIER
FOSTORIA — Through the effort and support of community entities, Fostoria Junior/Senior High School students will be back in class Wednesday — but not at their school building.
Officials on Friday announced more details on when, where and how the students will continue their education after a small fire this week closed their school building.
The Fostoria Learning Center will host students in grades 9-12 in the weeks to come, while the Junior/Senior High School is being cleaned.
School staff will use a variety of areas in the new center, with a majority of classes being taught in the unfinished portion on the east side.
Junior/Senior High School Principal Drew Bauman said the large spaces will be converted to individual classrooms. Most teachers will be able to teach from the same space each day, but a handful will rotate throughout different classroom spaces.
St. Wendelin Catholic School officials agreed Thursday to temporarily house Junior/Senior High School students in grades seven and eight. The junior high students will be located in the south wing of that building, where the old high school classrooms were. Classes will be set up in rooms as well as the gymnasium.
Staff and students will use furniture, such as desks, tables and chairs, from St. Wendelin.
“It means the world to us that people are willing to help us in a time of need,” Superintendent Andrew Sprang said. “It is important to help each other out and support one another for our kids.”
Both St. Wendelin and the Fostoria Learning Center “have been very accommodating to let us set up and are willing to take on the challenges of several hundred extra people being in their facilities each day for the next several weeks,” Sprang said.
As of Friday, Sprang said officials were still working out the logistics of transportation and food services, but they were “very close to being complete.”
All details will be finalized by Monday, when the district plans to host parent/student meetings at Fostoria Intermediate Elementary School. Families of seventh- and eighth-grade students will meet at 6 p.m., while families of students in grades 9-12 will meet at 7 p.m.
Students are expected to be in class in their assigned temporary spaces Wednesday.
Before then, Sprang said, the Learning Center will need to be furnished — with items from the facility as well as items donated by various companies around town.
“Teachers will continue to set up and work on developing their modified lessons for use with the students,” he said.
Additionally, the district is working with St. Wendelin to relocate boys’ basketball games and practices, according to Athletic Director/Assistant Principal Michele Wolf. The girls’ games will be played at Fostoria Intermediate Elementary School, but their senior night will be played at St. Wendelin.
Wolf said the Fostoria district has had to postpone or cancel two events due to the fire: the boys’ basketball game against Elmwood, scheduled for Friday, has been postponed and the Junior High Chuck Mason Wrestling Invitational was canceled as no other building is big enough to accommodate the number of teams attending.
Tuesday’s home varsity wrestling match has been moved to Oregon Clay.
The blaze that closed the junior/senior high school building was reported at 5:09 a.m. Tuesday and was found in the boiler room of the school. The fire was extinguished in less than 10 minutes, but it caused a power outage that affected the phone and internet systems districtwide.
Fostoria City Schools closed all its buildings that day. Electricity was restored and elementary students were able to return to school Wednesday.
Smoke that traveled through the ductwork at the junior/senior high school caused the building to be closed. Officials are working with Cleaner & Dryer Restoration and Construction on getting the air quality and the rooms up to a clean, safe standard for students and staff. Cleaning work is expected to be done in six to eight weeks.
Sprang said the cleaning crews will be cleaning everything from the floor up, including ductwork, as well as replacing ceiling tiles.
“I just want to say ‘thank you’ (to the community) for the patience and for the assistance in getting the answers and resources that we need,” Sprang said. “There have been so many that have offered to help, point us in the direction of resources, attend meetings, make phone calls and the list goes on.”