Students at Edison Elementary School won’t be returning to their classrooms any time soon and MacArthur Middle School expects to extend virtual learning for its students through Spring Break.
Lawton Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Hime notified Edison parents Monday their children will attend classes virtually for two more days, then move to two other elementary schools for an indefinite time while the district repairs damages inside Edison. In addition, repairs inside MacArthur Middle School are expected to take up to 10 days, keeping those secondary students in virtual learning.
The culprit was last week’s extreme weather, bitterly cold temperatures that broke waterlines in schools across the city. While some damage was minor, the damage at Edison was extensive.
Hime said last week a broken waterline in the school flooded and damaged floors in every classroom. While the district maintenance staff worked over the weekend to dry out the floors, they also analyzed options in the event flooring had to be replaced in every classroom. That’s the case, district officials said Monday.
In a letter to parents, Hime said after assessing the damage, district officials decided “it is vital that we replace the flooring in the classrooms and throughout the building,” a process he said would take weeks. Acknowledging the situation is not ideal, Hime said removing students from the school is necessary to provide a safe and healthy learning environment.
“While crews come in to repair the damage, we have to shift our students to a site that will cause the least disruption to their learning environment,” Hime said in a statement, adding the change will remain in effect until the school is repaired.
That means all Edison students will remain in virtual classes today and Wednesday, before being moved to two other elementary schools for traditional in-person classes until their school is repaired.
Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will attend classes at Learning Tree Academy, 1908 NW 38th, while students in grades one through five will attend Adams Elementary School, 3501 NW Ferris. Extended time services also will be held at Adams. Hime said Adams will work for a location for learning and extended day because the school now is housing only virtual teachers who are conducting the district’s virtual academy. Teachers who have been working inside Adams will move to Washington Elementary, Hime said.
Lawton Public Schools also will bus Edison students from that school to their new sites, unless parents want to drop off or pick up the students from Adams or Learning Tree Academy themselves, district officials said. Current bus routes will proceed as normal.
The problems at MacArthur Middle School had been expected to be quicker to repair, but Hime said late Monday damage was more extensive than originally thought. The school must undergo eight to 10 days of drying before making repairs to damage caused when a waterline by the library broke, flooding the library and nearby classrooms. The decision means all MacArthur Middle School students will be kept in virtual learning “until further notice,” with Hime estimating that means through Spring Break (March 15-19).
As with younger students, Hime said the district is working to create spaces within the school for students to come to, for parents who work and don’t have any other options. The district also will provide meals for such students, he said, adding parents already have dealt with seven virtual days in the last two weeks.
“It’s a lot of pressure on parents,” he said.
District officials had been concerned about Freedom Elementary School, where a sprinkler head in the fire suppression system broke, releasing material all over the school. But that problem was corrected, the system has been recharged and its certificate of occupancy has been issued, meaning in-person classes will resume today.
Minor damage also has been repaired at Eisenhower Elementary, Eisenhower High, Douglass Learning Center, MacArthur High and Lawton High, Hime said.