There was no hustle and bustle of a usual school day.
But the eerie quiet at Corrimal High School on Monday belied the work being done behind the scenes to start rebuilding the fire ravaged school.
Authorities were no closer to determining whether the fire in the early hours of Saturday morning was deliberately lit.
And the site remained a crime scene on Monday as investigators started the long process of cleaning up the rubble.
It was an “emotionally draining weekend” for Corrimal HS principal Paul Roger, thinking about the long road ahead for his students and staff.
But while he was upset the fire had destroyed the building he described as the “heart of the school”, the principal was adamant it hadn’t shattered the school’s spirit.
“We are going to use this as an opportunity to rebuild,” Mr Roger told the Mercury on Monday.
“At the end of the day it is just a building and the school is made great by the people who are in it.
“My main focus at the moment is supporting those people to make sure they can get back on their feet as soon as possible to get students back to class.”
The industrial arts building, which housed a metal works skills training centre as well as a “significant amount of machinery, equipment and resources”, was completely destroyed.
Nearby buildings also suffered extensive smoke, fire and water damage.
“But it's just a building. Buildings and equipment can be replaced,” Mr Roger said.
“It is the 20 plus years of resources that staff have developed. It is the things that can’t be replaced, like the gifts and the mementos from students and the memories I guess that the staff have of the time.
“The building is the heart of the school. Students love going there and the staff love working there.
“But we will rebuild and we will rally around the staff that were involved.”
Mr Roger thanked nearby Woonona High School for allowing Corrimal students to complete their HSC exams at the school.
He was also overwhelmed by the community’s unwavering support during the school’s time of need.
Mr Roger also praised the work of the Fire and Rescue NSW crews.
“Certainly without the effort of all the crews who were involved, the potential that we could have lost even more buildings here is quite significant. I’m immensely grateful,” he said.
“This is a great school and will get better.
“This is just one of those things we have to overcome and it’s going to help us teach students how to overcome adversity by the way we deal with things.
“My aim is that we can get our students back to class as soon as possible and also that they are learning again.”