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Patrick County authorities graded land for mobile classrooms Sunday near fire-damaged Meadows of Dan Elementary School, hoping to quickly establish alternative classrooms and minimize the time students are out after a weekend fire, a school official said.
Local firefighters from Galax and Carroll County helped extinguish the blaze at the 72-year-old school.
Educators have reached out to schools in neighboring communities, like Carroll, to provide supplies. Meadows of Dan Elementary has 120 students.
Authorities said all Patrick County schools were closed for students Monday for a staff workday. Classes began Aug. 11.
The fire, detected at 3:15 a.m. Saturday, led to the collapse of the roof and part of the second floor of the school, Patrick County Division Superintendent Roger Morris said. He said authorities were looking into the cause.
The severity of the fire caused Patrick officials to seek mutual aid from five Twin County emergency services agencies, including Galax, Cana, Hillsville and Laurel Fork fire departments and Laurel Fork Rescue Squad, according to Mike Mock, Carroll’s emergency services director.
At the same time, Barren Springs covered the Hillsville Fire Department for other calls, and Surry County, N.C., stood by at Cana’s fire department in case of emergency.
The Meadows of Dan elementary’s year-old gymnasium survived. Though it had minor smoke damage, officials may decide to hold school in the gym as a temporary measure until mobile units arrive, Morris said.
The Patrick County School Board met Saturday and made a preliminary plan that included grading land near the gym and ordering mobile classrooms, Morris said. Longer term, officials are committed to keeping Meadows of Dan Elementary open, he said.
“We will not close the school. We will rebuild,” Morris said.
Citizens and officials have been doing what they can to support the school in its time of need.
Carroll Schools Superintendent Greg Smith said educators in the county, as a neighboring school system, are looking for ways to help the Meadows of Dan community.
He has told the Patrick County school superintendent as much in an e-mail sent Saturday.
"We have offered assistance in anyway we can, in any form we can," he said. "We have met this morning and consulted with their needs list, and we will be holding a 'Pack the Bus for Patrick' event this week."
Smith anticipates the possibility of offering space for Meadows of Dan students in Carroll schools while the Patrick County school is rebuilt.
A group called “Rebuild Meadows of Dan Elementary School” has sprung up on Facebook.
Del. Ward Armstrong (D-Henry County) released a list of supplies that the school and students need, including notebook paper, spiral notebooks, binders, notebook dividers, crayons, pencils, pens, markers, highlighters, erasers, pencil trimmers, pencil boxes, glue sticks, scissors, construction paper, copy paper, graph paper, stapler and staples, tape and tape dispensers, sticky notes, paper clips, rubber bands, hole punches, file folders, student folders, index cards, maps, globes, calendars, dictionaries, rulers, hand sanitizer, tissues, books, toys, puzzles and games.
These items can be dropped off at any Patrick County school or the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.
Monetary donations can be sent to Meadows of Dan Fire Relief Fund at BB&T, Meadows of Dan PTO, in care of Melissa Belcher, 3607 Jeb Stuart Highway, Meadows of Dan, Va., 24120.