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After the Devastating Fires in Wine Country, Schools Are Open!

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This is a heartening story about the schools in Wine Country in California, which just suffered through horrifying fires.

Educators who lost their own homes were back on the job, to make sure the children had a safe space.

This is what educators do.

“Principal Teresa Ruffoni greeted students at Crane Elementary School in Rohnert Park on Monday morning, their first day back in class after a series of deadly fires burned through thousands of homes in neighboring Santa Rosa and in other cities and towns across the region.

“What Ruffoni didn’t tell the children was that a week earlier she had grabbed a few of her most vital belongings and fled from flames that would soon consume her home in Hidden Valley Estates, a hard-hit subdivision in the hills of northern Santa Rosa.

“She was too focused on the students, and navigating an extraordinary period for education in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties…

“Amid the chaos and uncertainty, district administrators and teachers have been scrambling to get schools back open, knowing it was a critical step to bring a sense of security and normalcy to children traumatized by the destruction.

“That’s why on Friday, Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified Superintendent Robert Haley gathered the entire district staff in a school gym.

“Do you want to try and reopen Monday?” he asked.

“The answer, he said, was a solid yes.

“I looked up, and front and center was a teacher with a smile on her face,” he said. “Her house burned down, but she was ready to help her colleagues get kids back in school.”

“Ruffoni, despite possessing only a hodgepodge of mismatched clothes grabbed in the dark of night, was ready to go, too.

“It felt like the right thing to do, Haley said, to help the whole county move forward.

“For many of our students, the place they feel safest other than at home is school,” Haley said. “The adults they trust more than anyone other than their parents are their teachers. That’s why we’re here today.”

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