Students at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School in LaPlace will return to classes Thursday, less than a week after a serious fire forced the school to close.
Meanwhile, officials hope students at the adjacent East St. John Elementary, where the fire actually started, will be back in class no later than Aug. 31 at the vacant Leon Godchaux Junior High School campus in nearby Reserve.
St. John the Baptist Parish Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Boquet said the hope is to get classes going at Godchaux even sooner if possible.
In the meantime, East St. John Elementary students can attend a day camp hosted by New Wine Christian Fellowship and Marathon Petroleum Corp.
“The camp is so the moms and dads can go to work and so the kids can continue doing constructive things instead of just sitting at home,” St. John School Board member Russ Wise said Tuesday.
Parents can register their children for the camp from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at New Wine, 1929 West Airline Highway, LaPlace. There will also be a registration opportunity at a community meeting for the East St. John Elementary community at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the cafeteria of LaPlace Elementary School, 393 Greenwood Drive.
Officials at the community meeting will also discuss the plan to relocate East St. John Elementary students to the Godchaux campus, the timeframe for the transition, and relief efforts.
St. John schools Superintendent Kevin George said there’s been no shortage of people pitching in for those efforts. “My phone has not stopped ringing,” he said.
The blaze at East St. John Elementary broke out about 12:15 a.m. Friday and wasn’t completely doused until several hours later. It began inside a janitor’s closet in the school’s cafeteria, said Brant Thompson, deputy chief at the state Fire Marshal’s Office. Investigators believe the fire started accidentally for reasons that have not been determined.
The closet contained a number of chemicals and also had fluorescent lights, electrical circuitry and breaker boxes in it, Thompson said.
Lake Pontchartrain Elementary students had been attending classes in temporary buildings next to East St. John Elementary. Pontchartrain’s own campus was destroyed during Hurricane Isaac in 2012.
East St. John High School students also lost their campus during Hurricane Isaac, and they took classes at unoccupied Godchaux for about three years. The school returned to its home campus this summer, shortly before the fire at East St. John Elementary.
Because Godchaux most recently housed high schoolers, it requires modifications to accommodate East St. John Elementary students in pre-K through eighth grade.
The St. John School Board will meet in emergency session at 2 p.m. Wednesday to vote on authorizing the emergency modifications.