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Students at the Moretown Elementary School listened attentively to teachers’ lessons inside walled tents pitched on the flood-damaged school’s baseball field on Tuesday morning.

 

After the building failed to pass a health inspection, a village of tents served as outdoor classrooms; a small camper trailer housed new Principal Duane Pierson and his administrative team.  A temporary medical tent served as the school nurses’ office. 

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Pierson stood outside one of the tents donated by Valley Rent-All wearing a red tee-shirt with “Moretown Elementary School” printed in white letters. A similar banner hung from the largest of the classroom tents.

Moretown School teachers and staffed worked through last weekend to prepare for the week outside the traditional classroom.

Pierson said, “We have an amazing staff; we put our minds together and worked the entire weekend. It’s so important for our community to have school, and we wanted to make the circumstances meaningful educationally.”

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The school was off limits to students and staff after ATC Associates, who conducted health tests, found coliform bacteria present in the severely flood-damaged building. Carpeting had to be ripped up and work crews worked around the clock to clean the school in time to open this week.

Whole school field trips to Shelburne Farms, the Montshire Museum and Craftsbury outdoor summer camp were scheduled for the first week of school. Additional health testing was conducted on Tuesday; results were not available at press time.

The presence of coliform bacteria on the floors is “pretty typical given we’re flooded and we had sewers backing up in our school,” Pierson said.

Still lessons continue on the grounds of Moretown Elementary School; music lessons are still being taught and students still have physical education class and are using the Moretown Memorial Library instead of the school’s library.

Lunches were donated by many area restaurants and businesses. The Big Picture Theater offered space for classes should the building fail inspection again.

Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom set up a phone line to run from the building to the administrative trailer in the school’s parking lot.

Pierson said he was struck by the generosity and willingness to help of the many community members and organizations that have helped out.

Moretown School isn’t open yet, but class is still in session.

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