Paradise students prepare to return to school after the Camp Fire

CHICO, Calif. (KGO) -- Preparations are underway in Butte County to get Paradise students affected by the Camp Fire back to school next week.

But there are challenges that lie ahead for displaced families.

RELATED: Camp Fire: Businessman from Southern California delivers $1,000 checks to Paradise High students, staff

"It's so nice to see her," said Mrs. Shelly Kiefer when seeing her student Peyton.

First grade Paradise Elementary teacher Mrs. Kiefer last saw her students the morning the Camp Fire broke out Nov. 8. Paradise Elementary was left in ruins.

"It's very emotional because when we left that day, we didn't know what was going to happen. So it's so nice to see everybody," said Kiefer.

These types of heartwarming reunions are bound to happen when Paradise students return to class on Monday.

Students originally attending Bird Street Elementary in Oroville have been relocated to make room for the Paradise kids. Before they arrive, teachers have been busy getting classrooms ready.

RELATED: Frustration mounts among Paradise residents at special town council meeting

"Yesterday, this room had nothing," said teacher Laura Taylor. "Blank walks, no cabinets, no shelving."

All school supplies, including backpacks, have been donated.

The Paradise high and intermediate students will report to the Chico Mall where they'll be a spot set up for them to drop in for independent studies. School administrators say this will be a temporary fix while they find a permanent location.

With so many displaced families scattered, school officials expect attendance levels around 50 percent.

"Just getting the word out and contacting people is really difficult because contact numbers, people relocating and not being able to be accessible is going to be a challenge," said Kay Paden, program specialist with the Butte County Office of Education.

While things won't be the same for many of the families who lost their homes, parents know that returning to a classroom setting will help.

"Once the kids are back in school and have their schedule going, similar to what it was before, it will be nice to try to get our life back to somewhat normal," said parent, Lana Bunch. She was one of thousands who lost their home in Paradise.

RELATED: Before & After the Camp Fire: A new aerial look at devastated Paradise

And it's that sense of normalcy this community desperately needs.

See more stories, photos and videos on the Camp Fire here.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.