Stabilization begins at Fox Elementary nearly three months after fire

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 6:57 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - This week, construction equipment has been dropped off at William Fox Elementary as crews went inside the more than 100-year-old school to begin to remove what’s left after the devastating fire in February.

Tuesday morning, the sounds of progress could be heard on Hanover Avenue as a crane was dropped off behind the school, and crews went inside.

Richmond Public Schools says work this week will focus on site stabilization and remediation, including installing portable toilets, generators, and signs for an active construction site.

This week, construction equipment has been dropped off at William Fox Elementary as crews went...
This week, construction equipment has been dropped off at William Fox Elementary as crews went inside the more than 100-year-old school to begin to remove what’s left after the devastating fire in February.(NBC12)

“It’s exciting because this really is a community spot,” Shannon Heady, a Fox Elementary parent, said. “I mean, when you talk to my 15-year-old that’s in high school at Thomas Jefferson, you’ll know he’ll talk about how sad he was and that kids still come and met even after they were on the playground, long after they were a Fox student, so it really is a community fixture.”

Out of respect for neighboring residents, construction crews will not begin work any earlier than 7 a.m. and will not continue later than 11 p.m.

An additional crane will be moved onto the site on Wednesday, and partial results from the asbestos testing should be available later this week.

The cranes will begin work on shoring, debris removal and stabilization.

The cupola will be removed to allow Richmond Fire Department and RPS’s insurer, VAcorp, to complete their investigations.

It means it will be a different look for a school that’s been vacant for the last three months.

“It’s been really sad because I’m used to seeing it as a normal school,” Tess Downey, a Fox student, said. “So, whenever I walk past it or drive past it anytime, I’m always like why is it burnt. I always forget, and then I get very sad when I see it.”

While Fox parents are happy that work is finally beginning with the pending resignation of the school division’s chief operating officer, they’re worried progress could be delayed.

“As people have been expressing concern of things falling through the cracks, they fall through the cracks when you’re not fully staffed,” Heady said. “Just like schools need to be staffed, the administration needs to be fully staffed so they can do all of these things.”

Once all work is complete, the school division expects the school to be ready by the Fall of 2024.

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