SWANSEA, Ill. (KMOX) – School’s back in session at Wolf Branch Elementary School in Swansea, where the enrollment has doubled since last week.

Four-hundred-plus students from Wolf Branch Middle School are now attending classes down the street at the elementary school, which also has more than 400 pupils.

It was discovered that the Wolf Branch Middle School building is slowly starting to sink into the ground due to mine subsidence.

Superintendent Scott Harres admits they’re packed in “like sardines” and there are some issues they’re having to work through.

“We have some lockers (at the elementary school) but not nearly enough for these upper grade students,” he told KMOX. “I get it, I mean with them having to travel from class to class to class, it’s diffucult for them to have a fully packed book bag.”

There have also been some pleasant surprises while dealing with the unprecedented situation.

“We assumed that traffic was going to be a mess in the morning,” Harres said. “But between all the staff helping, we even had parents helping and the police were out helping, that went remarkably well.”

Unknown at this time is how long this current arrangement will be necessary, whether the subsidence damage at the middle school can be fixed, or how much those repairs might cost.

Harres says through it all, one motto has risen to prominence among students, staff and faculty — “We’ll make it work.”

Engineers from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will be going over the grounds of the middle school on Wednesday to determine the full extent of damage.


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