CHESTER, Vt. – The Chester-Andover Elementary School has had an unusual start to the beginning of the school year. During the early hours of Friday, Aug. 24, before the first day of school, the boiler room was flooded, due to a stripped bolt that was securing a flange. A few days later, the school had their water system tested and a break in the water pipe occurred which flooded two of the fifth and sixth grade classrooms. Pushing off the beginning of school just one week, Katherine Fogg, principal at CAES, worked together tirelessly with our superintendent to find a place to house the 240-plus students, teachers, and staff to find a solution to properly fix the water and electrical services.
Lauren Fierman, principal at Green Mountain Union High School graciously offered to move some teachers around and make a space for the second through six grades, and the Chester Baptist Church generously offered space for the kindergarten and first grade students. Finally with everything in place, the children were able to start school with only a slight delay.
After Fogg and Superintendent Meg Powden determined the Chester Baptist Church was the best location for the primary students, they asked Mr. Spaulding to contact Serv Pro to come to the church to address the musty smell in the basement rooms. They wanted the rooms aired out and dehumidified to improve the air prior to the students, teachers, and staff starting the school year. Serv Pro did come in and provide them with their services. Just to be sure the air quality was satisfactory, Chris Clement of Environmental Compliance Associates was invited to test the air. Clement determined that there is “historical mold” in the church. While this is commonly found in old buildings, it can pose a health risk for people with weakened immune systems. To be on the safe side, the decision was made to close school for the kindergarten and first grades for a couple of days while they looked into removing the mold from the church or finding a new place to house the children. After reviewing the options, they decided to relocate the kindergarten and first grade classrooms to Green Mountain.
During this difficult time, the community, teachers, staff, parents and local businesses came together with patience, understanding, support, and lots of creative solutions. The Two Rivers Supervisory Union wants to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has helped make this challenging beginning so much easier. We also want to send out a special thanks to the PTG for providing food, the Whiting Library and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church offering up additional space for smaller group activities, and Lee Gustafson and Crystal Barbour at the Baptist Church for their generosity of time and work on our behalf. The beauty of troubling times can often be found in the large hearts of the community, and Chester has certainly shown this in spades throughout this ordeal.