Cummings K-8 students begin classes at LaRose

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — While crews investigate what caused a ceiling to collapse Monday at Cummings K-8 Optional School, students are adjusting to new classrooms. The children who attend Cummings are temporarily sharing facilities with La Rose Elementary School, which is a little more than one mile away.

Memphis-Shelby County Schools provided buses for the students to be taken from Cummings to Larose Tuesday morning.

The kids were greeted with a welcome sign and the Cummings faculty and staff lined the walkway leading to the front door.

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“What we saw when parents from Cummings walked in the building was smiles, because they saw the teachers and the secretaries and even the nutritional staff who they’re used to seeing at their old building,” said Dr. Cathryn Stout, MSCS Chief of Communications. “Drop off this morning was very successful, it went very smoothly.”

“It was actually smooth and easy,” said Jeanika Ivery, a parent. “Seeing a lot of the teachers here from Cummings was actually a great thing. So there’s actually familiar faces for the children to see so they won’t have to be so nervous.”

This change in scenery comes after what MSCS called a “maintenance issue” ― a drop ceiling in the library at Cummings collapsing Monday morning. The failure in the false ceiling sent three staff members to the hospital to be checked out, and scared some parents.

“Very nervous due to the fact that there was an incident last year with the shooting, and I’m just like, ‘Oh, my goodness, something else again’” said Ivery. “But I was just happy that none of the children were injured.”

With the addition of Cummings K-8, Stout says there will now be about 550 students at La Rose Elementary School, where she says there is plenty of space.

“We have the Cummings students and the La Rose students in separate classrooms with their own individual teachers,” said Stout. “We have some surprises for them throughout the day just to ease the transition a little bit. And it should be as normal a day as possible, you know, the same lunch schedule the same breakfast schedule.”

“The only tweak that we’re making is we’re staggering dismissal just to make sure we have an orderly dismissal. We have extra people in the building to support not only the students but support the staff. We know that this is going to be a transitional moment for everyone.”

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Stout says the temporary assignment expected to last at least a week, until crews at Cummings say it’s safe to return.

“So we know that it was a drop ceiling that failed so it wasn’t the actual roof,” said Stout. “We’re having teams in the building today. They’re going to assess and do a full assessment. So we should have some more information in the days to come. We had a lot of parents reach out to our helpline.”

“They’ve just reached out about transportation and we’ve assured them that we have them covered. We’ll definitely keep our parents in the loop and we encourage our parents to reach out to help line at (901) 416-5300.”