Castleton, VT — The pandemic has provided schools with many challenges during the pandemic as schools have had to transition back and forth from in-person to remote learning.

One Vermont school district, however, the Slate Valley Union School District in Castleton, has always prioritized learning inside the classroom.

Superintendent Brooke Olsen-Farrell said, “We’re one of I would say the only districts in the state that did not offer remote learning for grades pre-K through 8.”

This week, the Slate Valley Union School District faced a new challenge as the Castleton Village School was forced to close due to frozen pipes and Olsen-Farrell predicts it could be until February or March before students and staff can return to the building.

“A pipe broke over the weekend due to the extreme cold, and as a result of the holiday weekend,” explained Olsen-Farrell. “That water ran for two and half days and did extensive damage throughout the building.”

Instead of choosing to switch to remote learning, the school district decided to have all 100 middle school students and staff relocate.

“So inside Castleton Village School, lockers are cleaned out and students’ materials are put into bag so they can continue their learning at Castleton Elementary,” said Olsen-Farrell. “Now the district is making a point to stick with in-person learning as opposed to going remote.”

Village School students will combine with pre-K through 5th graders starting Tuesday, January 25.

Katie Krowly of Bomoseen, said neither she nor her 6th grade daughter are too concerned about the change, rather, she appreciates the district for finding a temporary solution.

“I think it’s hard parents because we don’t know the exact plan and what it will look like and the unknown is the unknown, but I trust everything will be okay,” said Krowly.

Olsen-Farrell says the plan comes earlier than expected as the district plans to close the Village School in June, a decision that will be finalized on Town Meeting Day and while it will be a tight fit for the time being, the community has been supportive.

She adds that Castleton Elementary will be getting another nurse to accommodate the students and like other school districts in need of more test kits, Slate Valley Union got an additional 1,000 kits on Friday.