MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Planada Elementary School students are back on their campus after the school suffered extensive damage during January's storms.
On Tuesday, playgrounds were packed and classrooms were crowded.
Teacher Mary Garcia is grateful to be nearly back to normal. "I'm excited, I'm very excited. We don't have to be moving around anymore."
The school suffered major flooding damage during a series of storms in January. The water reached 26 classrooms, the main administrative office and the technology server room. The library and 5th grade classrooms were a total loss.
Principal Erica Villalobos said it's amazing to be back together again -- for the big and small reasons.
"I'm able to do my morning announcements and flag salute with everybody here, celebrate their birthdays," she said. "We always announce our birthdays and sometimes we'd give someone's birthday and that student wasn't here. So it's like 'Happy Birthday where you're at."
Just one day after returning from Winter Break on Monday, January 9th, students and their families had to pack up and evacuate. When they returned back to the classroom-things were a lot different.
TK through 2nd graders remained at the school in shared spaces that were not flooded. But the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders had to relocate to Cesar Chavez Middle School - one mile away.
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Principal Villalobos pointed out the flooding came after all the challenges caused by the pandemic. "This year was going to be the year of normal, the year we were back, but unfortunately, this completely turned our world upside down...but we made, we made it through together," she said.
After renovations - every classroom now has new walls, carpet and a white board. However, the 5th grade classrooms and library have been replaced with white portable buildings.
Fifth grade teacher Gaozua Lor said, "It feels really nice to be back in the classroom and having our own space again."
Teachers are still adjusting to their new accomodations, and so are the students.
Valencia Villalobos appreciates the little things like being able to leave books and supplies in one place. She said, "We don't have to move around from place to place because now we have enough space for all of our class."
School officials say by the summer, all classrooms will get new furniture and custom cabinets, and administrators will get a new office. As for the rebuild of the library and 5th grade classrooms - that will take another year or two.