More information released about plumbing issue that shut down Decatur High

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt December 18, 2015
The front steps of Decatur High School. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The front steps of Decatur High School. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

City Schools of Decatur has released more information explaining the plumbing issue that forced Decatur High to dismiss early on Thursday and completely close on Friday.

“We are still working to determine exactly what happened and how, but our current understanding is the following:¬†We believe a pipe in the construction area behind the high school was disrupted in some way, causing water to infiltrate the lower level of the school in and around the band room,” the statement from CSD says. “After several hours of this, the drains could not keep up with the influx and the school’s drainage system began to backup into the building. Staff and contractors continue to investigate to determine exactly what happened.”

The statement addressed why students were dismissed early and classes were cancelled on Friday.

“When the system began to backup, it introduced the possibility that raw sewage could be introduced into the building,” the statement from CSD says. “Additionally, we could not yet determine if there was any impact on the fresh water coming into the building. Therefore, students were dismissed early to ensure they would not be exposed to contaminated water.”

There were also about 300 families who didn’t receive a call from CSD regarding the dismissal.

According to the statement, “The district’s mass calling system failed to call approximately 300 families about the Friday school cancellation. We are working with the vendor to identify why that occurred. When this fault was identified Friday morning, the district sent another phone call to all DHS families reminding them of the school closure. Also, some families have changed phone numbers but not updated their information in Infinite Campus. Please make sure to update your contact information in the parent portal anytime your information changes.”

Here is the full statement provided by CSD:

Good afternoon,

We have received several questions and comments following yesterday’s communications about the plumbing issue at DHS and associated response. The following information is intended to help answer those questions and clear up some confusion. Thank you to all who provided feedback, allowing us to improve future actions in such situations.

What exactly was the plumbing issue?

We are still working to determine exactly what happened and how, but our current understanding is the following:

We believe a pipe in the construction area behind the high school was disrupted in some way, causing water to infiltrate the lower level of the school in and around the band room. After several hours of this, the drains could not keep up with the influx and the school’s drainage system began to backup into the building. Staff and contractors continue to investigate to determine exactly what happened.

Why was school dismissed early Thursday and cancelled Friday?

When the system began to backup, it introduced the possibility that raw sewage could be introduced into the building. Additionally, we could not yet determine if there was any impact on the fresh water coming into the building. Therefore, students were dismissed early to ensure they would not be exposed to contaminated water.

What will students do about final exams and final projects?

Teachers will work with students to ensure there is time following the break to complete and/or take final exams and projects.

Why did the Frasier Center remain open?

The Career/Tech wing is on a different plumbing system so the Frasier Center could remain in operation. Out of an abundance of caution, we transitioned to using bottled water in the Center until we can determine the full scope of the situation.

Why did staff remain Thursday and Friday?

Alternative arrangements were made for staff so they could work from the school or the Central Office, could use the facilities in the Career/Tech area, and could have bottled water for drinking.

Why didn’t I receive a phone call about Friday’s school cancellation?

The district’s mass calling system failed to call approximately 300 families about the Friday school cancellation. We are working with the vendor to identify why that occurred. When this fault was identified Friday morning, the district sent another phone call to all DHS families reminding them of the school closure. Also, some families have changed phone numbers but not updated their information in Infinite Campus. Please make sure to update your contact information in the parent portal anytime your information changes.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

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