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School officials are still waiting to learn how quickly a structural issue at Annville Elementary School can be resolved – and how soon the school can reopen for use.
According to a statement from Annville-Cleona School District, an engineering firm determined on Sept. 4 that there has been settlement under the elementary school, which “has caused damage to the building’s structure.”
“Because of this damage, Annville Elementary will be closed to all students and staff effective immediately,” the statement said. “While this is unexpected, we are very thankful that this was found when there were no students in the building. More information will be provided to families in emailed updates and posted on this website.”
District superintendent Krista M. Antonis told LebTown the damage was discovered “during a routine check of the fire extinguishers in the cafeteria” on Sept. 4. The school was not in session at the time, she said.
Unfortunately, she said, district officials don’t know yet how serious the problem is or what must be done to mitigate the issue.
“Engineers have been on site to investigate the settlement that occurred,” Antonis said. “We are still waiting for their report to learn the extent.”
Even so, she said, administrators “are hopeful that we will be able to reopen in a few months, but are waiting for the engineer’s report.”
Read More: New Annville-Cleona superintendent stepped into role mid-pandemic
The report also will let officials know more about the cost attached to the problem once the cause of the settlement is known, she said.
“At this time, the contractors have incurred minimal costs to remove the tile floor and cement slab in the area this occurred,” Antonis said. “We are working with our insurance company to determine the various costs that are covered under our policy.”
In the meantime, the schedule for Annville-Cleona High School students has been altered to accommodate elementary students displaced by the problem.
High school students were shifted to a hybrid learning schedule, Antonis explained, and are on campus only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, she said, they’re participating in synchronous learning program online.
“That afforded us the opportunity to have the Annville Elementary students utilize the high school classrooms for in-person learning on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays while they learn at home synchronously on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Antonis said.
Other options were discussed but were not found to be feasible, she said. The board discussed the options at its regular meeting on Sept. 14.
In a typical year, she said, Annville Elementary has a student population of about 425, but because of a hybrid schedule option that was already in place because of COVID-19, only about 325 students were taking classes on site.
The superintendent praised the high school faculty, which she said “has done a tremendous job being flexible and sharing their learning space with the Annville Elementary staff.” Also, she noted, “the Annville Elementary staff has maintained a positive attitude throughout this change, which has created a positive environment for the elementary students when they came to the high school for the first time on Sept. 16.”
Antonis noted that a before- and after-school program for students that was operated by the Lebanon YMCA at Annville was canceled prior to the structural issue at the building and was not discontinued because of it.
That decision was made before school reopened due to low enrollment, she said. However, she added, “there are several local childcare alternatives for families.”
Read all of LebTown’s COVID-19 coverage here.
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