Displaced Fox Elementary students could soon learn in nearby First Baptist Church

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Fox Elementary students could soon be learning in-person again, under a proposal from Richmond Public schools to temporarily hold classes in the 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 move temporarily into 35 classrooms in the historic First Baptist Church on Monument Avenue until the disused Clark Springs Elementary can be prepared for the incoming Fox students.

“Relocation to First Baptist makes all the sense in the world,” said school board member Jonathan Young. “From the start my priorities included relocating to a physical space asap, a property in near proximity to 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 Synagouge and St. James Episcopal Church, but ultimately the administration recommended keeping classes together in one facility.

Parents overwhelmingly supported moving into a temporary space while Clark Springs is renovated so that students don’t have to remain in virtual learning. Staff were more evenly divided, with many expressing concern over whether the temporary space would be suitable for teaching.

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

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

If the board does approve the plan, classes in the church will start March 21. While Clark Springs is expected to be ready by mid-April, but the board will have to decide whether to transition immediately to the refitted school or to wait until classes restart next Fall.

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