Australia — Students, parents and teachers at Kersbrook Primary School, which escaped serious damage in the Adelaide Hills bushfires earlier this month, have returned for the first day of term.
The school, which has just over 60 students, lost two sheds, fencing and sporting equipment in the fire.
Principal Mike Walsh thanked the CFS volunteers and members of the community who helped save the classrooms from being destroyed.
“Many of them were community members, some were CFS with farm units, some with buckets and hoses came here and defended the school,” he said
“Some of them were ex-students, I know some were ex-parents, I’ve knocked on most of those doors already to say thank you in person.”
Mr Walsh said it was a relief to be back at the school.
“But a bit disappointing in that the trees that framed the school at the back, four thousand of them on a neighbour’s property, they’ve all been cut down, so I’ve watched the children come in and look at that and be a little bit gobsmacked that it’s so different.”
First day ‘a chance for students to debrief’
Mr Walsh said many of the students’ families had lost fencing, sheds, machinery and some had lost animals in the fire.
“A big part of today will be spending some time debriefing because they’re all going to have stories to tell us,” he said.
“It’s important we spend a little bit of time listening to that, but not too much that we’re dwelling on it.
“We want them to get back on the front foot and a normal school day as much as we can.”
Education Minister Jennifer Rankine said the damaged school infrastructure would be replaced as quickly as possible.
“The damage was minimal compared to what it could have been and much of that is thanks to local people who acted swiftly,” Ms Rankine said.
“You can’t go through an event like this community went through without some impact.
“Families in this community lost homes, sheds and fencing and livestock,” she said.
“School’s a place where we can continue to support the students and their families.