The first day of school for Memorial Middle School students will come a week or more later than the rest of the district this year, superintendent Bruce Watson confirmed Thursday.
Watson said water was up to the ceiling of the boiler room and into parts of the auditorium when he inspected the building Wednesday. The good news, he said, was that it had not penetrated hallways, classrooms or the school's gym.
Watson said he sent out automated phone calls to Memorial School parents last night informing them of his decision to delay opening the school, and will continue sending daily status updates until the water issue is resolved.
“They’re going to be informed,” Watson said of Memorial parents. “What we did today, what contractors did we use, did the water get pumped out, did PSE&G turn the electric back on, has it been cleaned? Everything we do I’m going to keep the community updated so the school is not just sitting there.”
PSE&G disconnected service from outside the building Thursday so crews could enter the boiler room and basement areas to pump out more than six feet of water.
Once the water is removed, Watson said that a recovery team will enter to inspect, clean and dry all electrical connections, conduit lines and contacts.
After the clean-up and disinfectant process is deemed complete, the power will be restored and air monitoring for spores and mold will begin.
Pending a successful health inspection, Memorial’s first day of school will be Monday, Sept. 12, which Watson called a “very aggressive,” timeline given the extensive amount of work required.
He said that if Memorial students miss only the four days they’re expected to, that they would not likely need to make them up later in the year. If the school’s opening is delayed beyond next week, however, make-up time is a possibility.
Memorial teachers, on the other hand, will not enjoy the potential luxury of an extended summer break. Watson said Memorial teachers will work at other schools throughout the week, many focused on the district-wide curricular realignment necessary to meet new national education standards.
While he said he’d rather not have had it happen this way, Watson called it an “automatic” that Memorial teachers would get started tackling the curricular updates during their time off.
“This is something that we’re going to take advantage of,” he said.
District teachers and supervisors began working on curricular realignment this summer and will continue during the school year. Had Memorial’s opening not been delayed, teachers there would have had to find time to work on curricular updates at various points throughout the year.