Classes begin at West Willow Elementary, despite construction

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Students and staff at West Willow Elementary in Cedar Rapids started class this week, but the building wasn’t complete, with more construction work that needs to happen.

West Willow Elementary, located at 6225 1st Avenue SW, replaced Coolidge Elementary, which the district tore down over the summer. Teachers there are busy educating students inside of the building while construction crews are outside building a new playground.

Principal Greg O’Connell said the school is far from finished.

“We do not have access to our common spaces right now,” O’Connell said. “So the gym, the library, the cafeteria, and the kitchen are still being worked on.”

O’Connell said the reasons are out of their control. Last year’s derecho damaged one of their pods. The pandemic made it hard to get supplies.

“That would include stuff like desk tables, chairs, just the availability of getting some of the steel and some of the things for those products have been hard to get,” O’Connell said. “So they’re still in the process of getting some of those things to us.”

School leaders are balancing construction and classwork. Crews work on the building in empty areas during the day, and in other spaces after the school day. Even though it’s not a finished project yet, O’Connell is happy with the results.

“It is fabulous,” O’Connell said. “We are very excited to be here. The students are doing a fantastic job, and we are so excited to be in our new space.”

They’re hoping everything will be done by October.

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