An early morning fire that damaged a school on Hornby Island just over a week before students were scheduled to return to class is being investigated by the RCMP.

Hornby Island Community School was fully engulfed when local firefighters arrived at around 3 a.m. Sunday, but crews were able to quickly extinguish the flames with help from Denman Island Fire Rescue.

Though most of the school was apparently spared, including the library, the fire still destroyed the entire front of the building. The extent of the damage is still being assessed.

The cause hasn't been determined either, but officials said the RCMP is investigating.

In the meantime, the school board is scrambling to come up with a contingency plan so that students' learning won't be interrupted next month.

Board chair Janice Caton said officials are "shocked and saddened" that the school was damaged, noting that it is used not only by parents and students, but by the entire community.

“Our thoughts and best wishes go out to the students and staff both past and present and families of Hornby Island as we work together to determine our next steps," Caton said in a statement.

When a contingency plan is in place, officials said the details will be posted on the Hornby Island Community School and School District 71 websites.