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With snow piling up, officials keep a close eye on school roofs

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Published on February 3, 2011 in The Boston Globe MetroDesk Blog

At least one school suffered a partial roof collapse today, while others across the region were evacuated and inspected because of concerns that the weight of the snow and rain from a succession of winter storms might cause structural failures.

The roof of Perley Elementary School in Georgetown partially buckled from the weight of the snow, creating a hole about 30 feet by 30 feet in size, Fire Chief Albert Beardsley said.

The report of the collapse came in at about 11:45 a.m., he said. The failure affected a wing of about eight classrooms.

A full evacuation was ordered, and all children and staff were moved to the middle and high schools without any problems, said Beardsley.

In Norwell, the South Shore Charter School had to be evacuated because of the roof’s concerns about the roof’s condition, Fire Chief Andy Reardon said.

Firefighters responded a little before 10 a.m. and assisted with the evacuation of students to Cole Elementary School and Norwell High School, Reardon said, and the students were released to their parents a few hours later.

“You hear so often how things don’t work, but this thing, to me, worked like clockwork, almost like it was rehearsed,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the charter school and school district for being so cooperative.”

All 11 public schools in Peabody were closed today as a precautionary measure, Superintendent Milton Burnett said.

“The way the buildings are constructed, some places just drifted,” he said. “There were no structural compromises, it was completely precautionary.”

For the past week, facilities and maintenance crews have been working to clear close to a million square feet of roof space, he said.

Chelsea also took precautions, said Superintendent Thomas Kingston.

Officials checked each building to ensure their safety. Snow only needed to be removed from the roof of John E. Burke School, he said.

Hingham Middle School was also closed today due to concern over the roof’s safety. According to an announcement sent to Hingham school parents, several wooden beams that hold up the school’s roof cracked under the weight of 11 inches of snow, sending all 900 students into the cafeteria until they were dismissed.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the school would reopen on Friday.



Written by jdunccc

February 3, 2011 at 12:00 am

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