WACO, Texas - Students headed back to school Monday for the first time since the deadly plant explosion last Wednesday in West.

The town s high school and intermediate school were destroyed, but thanks to neighbors, the children were back in class Monday.

Last week s tragedy continues to weigh heavily on the people of West, but a renewed sense of hope emerged Monday morning as its students began a new chapter in the town of Lacy Lakeview.

Eleven miles south of West, the Connally Independent School District opened up its doors for the students without a home.

All the area superintendents in Region 12 met and came together and we had a vacant building... and we re 10 minutes from them. This is the best thing for them, Wesly Holt, public information officer for CISD, said.

So just before 9 a.m., the 500-plus young people made their way to Connally.

The whole state is getting involved including school districts from the Houston area. The Spring Independent School District sent 13 buses to help transport students from West to Connally.

When the students got off the bus,teachers were there to greet them with handshakes and hugs.

We re ready. We had a meeting yesterday, and we looked at a plan that provides the maximum amount of support for students that need it, the staff that needs it, the citizens that need it. We have counselors that are staged in every room, Jennifer Yanek, director of Region 12 counselors, said.

Yankek is not only a counselor, but a victim. Her home is located just across from the plant and sustained considerable damage.

For the remainder of the school year for sure, we will have to see from there, but we are welcoming them in as long as they need to be. As long as we can help, we will be here, Holt said.

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