Petaluma-area schools are back in session, but students will never get back the days they have lost.

Most Petaluma-area school districts were closed for the five days during the worst of the fires and the poor air quality that resulted. Districts have applied for a waiver to shorten their school years by those five days. The waiver requests are expected to be granted, meaning the lost five days will not be regained.

For students and teachers, that means working hard to cram the full curriculum into a shortened school year.

Petaluma City Schools Superintendent Gary Callahan said it won’t be easy. “It creates a challenge,” he said. “The teachers and the students have to accelerate the curriculum and do the best they can to make up for the days that were missed.”

Old Adobe School District students will lose six days after taking off last Monday to give teachers and other staff a chance to prepare classrooms.

“It was a big impact on everyone, but the safety concerns were too great to come back to school sooner.” said Superintendent Craig Conte from the Old Adobe District. “We’ll just have to work harder on the days we are here.”

Conte said “a couple of staff members lost their homes and several others were evacuated.

“It was a scary situation for all,” he said.

Both district have taken in a few students from other districts who were forced from their homes.

Callahan noted the volunteer efforts made by the Petaluma School District students as they helped fire refugees.

“It was amazing to see the level of support from across all our school sites,” he said.

Casa Grande High School became an evacuation center for a number of people, especially elderly persons from group living homes.

“It was pretty inspiring to watch students assist the medically fragile, elderly people, sit hold their hands and comfort them,” Caallahan observed.