JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An overnight fire that broke out in the cafeteria forced Duval County Public Schools to close Venetia Elementary on Friday and it won't reopen before winter break, district staff said.
The unexpected closure meant Venetia students attended class at J.E.B. Stuart Middle School on Wesconnett Boulevard on Friday, according to a district spokeswoman.
Tabitha Collins said school and district officials are grateful no one was hurt in the fire and that the damage was limited to the cafeteria.
But the damage is bad enough that students won't be able to return to the school before the winter break begins for Duval County, Collins said.
"We are fortunate that John Stockton Elementary School has opened their hearts and doors to all of our students and staff," Collins said.
Students will attend John Stockton Elementary at 4827 Carlisle Road in Jacksonville next week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. There will be no change to school hours. Students who ride the bus can still go to their regular bus stop and their bus will take them to Stockton Elementary instead of Venetia. Car rider students can be dropped off directly at Stockton Elementary.
Walkers should walk to Venetia, where a bus will pick them up and take them to Stockton.
The closure won't have any impact on extended day, food service or a planned fourth grade field trip to the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History. But the Jingle Jam is canceled.
Firefighters answering a 2 a.m. call to the elementary school on Timuquana Road put out the flames, but the fire department reported there was a lot of smoke lingering inside.
School administrators confirmed that students who did not attend school Friday will receive an excused absence.
Parents with questions are encouraged to call the school district at 904-390-2126 or John Stockton at 904-381-3955.