For first time since earthquake, Louisa students back in class

LOUISA, VA (WWBT) – For the first time in three weeks, Louisa County students were back in class. Back in August, they were at the epicenter of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that caused major damage to two schools. Students - who started classes the previous week- had no choice but to stay home...until now.

The third graders in Chesney Vesely's class, finally, are back together. Things look a little different...but they're also very much the same.

"Our books. We still have books…" Vesely said to the students during class.

The kids are from Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, which was rocked so badly in the August earthquake that they can't go back this year. So they're using mobile units outside of Trevilians Elementary School. Monday was the first day.

"They're back in school like we never missed a day. And I'm so encouraged by that," said Superintendent Dr. Deborah Pettit, who added that only four of the many trailers on campus were ready in time. Students will have to share classroom and cafeteria space inside Trevilians for now.

Administrators ran the day with purpose...knowing there were 1,100 little pairs of shoes at every turn.

ANDY: "I guess I'm impressed about the precision with which lunchtime is conducted. Have you ever seen anything like that?"

"No. We were talking that it just seems like they've been doing this all their lives," said reading teacher Catherine Collins.

It might be this way for another two years, says the superintendent. All part of the new normal for Louisa County Schools.

"Of course we were a little nervous, but things seemed to have worked out really well for us today," said Thomas Jefferson ES Principal Candace Wilkerson.

The kids will double-up in classrooms for at least a little while longer. As more of the mobile units become ready to go, the classes will gradually move. But that process could take at least another month to finish.

High school and middle school students are also sharing the middle school building on alternating days. Middle schoolers will even attend class on some Saturdays for the remainder of the year.

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