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Santa Rosa residents attending a town hall at Santa Rosa High School give a standing ovation to firefighters.

School reopenings still a week away in Santa Rosa, Calif.

About half the schools in the Santa Rosa district, closed because of wildfires, will be ready next Friday to welcome students back

Classes will resume next Friday for about half the students in the Santa Rosa (Calif.) district who have been out of school because of wild fires.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that classes will resume Oct. 27 at 13 schools in the 16,400-student district. Superintendent Diann Kitamura announced in a letter that the campuses, which account for about half of the district's students, would be ready to reopen following an extensive cleanup. 

"There are many factors that must be considered to reopen schools," Kitamura wrote, "including having enough staff to operate the schools, and having schools that are considered to be safe by the Office of Emergency Services and the district’s insurance carriers. Each site must be assessed, cleaned professionally, and then reassessed to protect the health of our students and staff."

Thousands of other students, who attend the 11 other schools in the district, won’t find out their return date until at least Monday.

After fires broke out earlier this month, the district, the largest in Sonoma County, closed all its schools.

The only Santa Rosa district campus lost in the fire was Hidden Valley Satellite, which serves 82 students in kindergarten through second grade. No other main campuses were reported to have suffered damage from the flames.

But Kitamura says the district needs to reopen in phases so that workers can clean facilities of ash and debris. Together, the campuses total more than 2 million square feet of space. Three thousand air filters need to be replaced, according to the district.

Teachers and staff also need to be in place. Seventy school employees and 230 student families have lost their homes, Kitamura says.

In outlying areas of Santa Rosa, Piner-Olivet and Mark West school districts plan to reopen Oct. 30.

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