Displaced Richmond elementary students could soon learn in nearby church

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Fox Elementary students could soon relearn in-person, under a Richmond Public Schools proposal to temporarily hold classes at nearby First Baptist Church.

The proposal, which will be considered at a school board meeting on Monday, March 7, would see teachers, students and staff temporarily relocate to 35 classrooms at the historic First Baptist Church on Monument Avenue until the disused Clark Springs Elementary could be prepared for incoming Fox students.

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“Relocating to First Baptist makes perfect sense,” said school board member Jonathan Young. “From the start, my priorities included moving to a physical space as soon as possible, a property near Fox, and a location that could accommodate the entire Fox community.”

The school board also considered housing students in two groups, split between Beth Ahabah Synagogue and St. James’s Episcopal Church, but the administration ultimately recommended keeping classes together in one facility.

Parents overwhelmingly supported the move to a temporary space while Clark Springs is renovated so students don’t have to stay in virtual learning. Staff were more evenly divided, with many expressing concerns about whether the temporary space would be suitable for teaching.

First Baptist is not asking Richmond Public Schools to pay rent for the space, but is asking for $5,000 to cover the costs of supporting the conversion of church spaces into classrooms.

“I expect the superintendent’s proposal for First Baptist to be approved,” Young said.

If the council approves the plan, classes in the church will begin on March 21. With Clark Springs expected to be ready in mid-April, the board will have to decide whether to move to the revamped school immediately or wait for classes. restart next fall.

Jerry B. Hatch