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DUNLOW, W.Va. — Dunlow Elementary School students returned to in-person instruction at a campground last week, and the Wayne County superintendent said those who worked to turn the facility into a school space did a great job.

“Everything looks fantastic. The staff, they have worked incredibly hard to transform it into a school environment,” Superintendent Todd Alexander said. “When you see the pictures or you’re there, you feel like you’re looking at a regular classroom.”

Following flooding at Dunlow Elementary School earlier this month, its students who were registered to attend in-person instruction are now learning at the Cabwaylingo State Forest group camp facility.

Alexander said the staff have worked hard to make sure there is plenty of space for the approximately 60 K-5 students attending in person to socially distance.

The location has barrack-style rooms that are being used for classrooms and a common area being used for physical education, art and music classes as well as for serving breakfast and lunch.

The facility has an outside pavilion area, and there are hiking trails close by. Alexander said these provide great opportunities for outside classes and active movement.

Alexander visited the location Monday and said students looked happy and had already been able to enjoy the outside areas.

“I think that (students) were ready to be back in person. They were all working hard,” he said. “The staff reported that they had already had a chance to go outside and the kids were thrilled with the green space that’s there.”

Alexander said students will finish out the rest of the school year at the Cabwaylingo location, which will give cleaning contractors time to properly repair damage done at Dunlow Elementary.

While students and staff are adjusting to the new space, Alexander said having the Cabwaylingo group camp site available is better than students continuing virtual learning and makes it so contractors do not have to rush to get the elementary school clean.

“We’re just glad that it worked out as well as it did and that it gives us time to really do what needs to be done at Dunlow,” he said. “It’s not an emergency because we’ve got a good alternative location where students can work, and in the meantime, we’ll get that building taken care of for them and it’ll be ready for them next year.”

Maintenance crews are working on getting rid of furniture in Dunlow Elementary that likely absorbed water from the flooding and is too damaged to repair.

After all the furniture is taken out, Alexander said contractors will begin tearing up tile and treating asbestos. Later, a cleaning contractor will come to deeply clean and steam the school before any furniture is replaced.

Alexander said Dunlow Elementary School’s cleaning and repairs are expected to be finished in June, and students will be able to return for the 2021-22 school year in August.

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