ASD assesses few injuries, extensive damage at Anchorage schools
On Friday after the powerful quake all 6,000 staff and 48,000 students made it home alive. During school evacuations, a custodian was injured by glass, one student may have broken a wrist, and a teacher in Chugiak went into labor, said ASD superintendent Dr. Denna Bishop at a news conference on Saturday.
ASD head of maintenance Bryan Stenehjem says every school in the Anchorage School District was damaged in the earthquake Friday. They are currently being assessed and some are still not safe to enter.
Stenehjem led a guided tour to see some the worst damage.
At King Tech High School a cinder block wall on the second story came down. Structural engineers were on the campus Saturday afternoon to evaluate the extent of the problem. Stenehjem says his team worked until nearly midnight the day of the quake doing an initial assessment of every ASD school.
Maintenance crews worked to prioritize what schools are safe to go into, which ones have minor damage, and which ones to "red tag" for severe damage, including Hanshew Middle School.
There was a major water pipe break in the front entryway, where Stenehjem says light fixtures were left laying in the water.
He says every classroom has damage. There are ceiling grids dangling and cell phones left on desks in the rush to evacuate.
No one except ASD crews are allowed inside Hanshew at this time, making the days following the earthquake difficult for people who left valuables behind.
"My phone, my wallet, my coat, my boots. Everything is in there and I've got extended family out of state and everyone is trying to reach me and I can't talk to anyone," Hanshew special education teacher Catherine Mannix said standing outside the damaged school.
Bishop says students and staff did what they're trained to do.
"We are used to doing drills and we're used to doing small earthquakes and our students knew it was serious when it continued for the longevity of this quake. But our teachers are trained. They are caring people; have trust. And we did an excellent job," she said.
Stenehjem says other Anchorage schools with severe damage include Bartlett and Dimond High Schools.
School Board member Starr Marsett isn't confident that all campuses will be ready to re-open by Wednesday. She says the board will discuss options for redirection at a special meeting at district headquarters tomorrow at 1 p.m.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that there were nearly 80 schools in the Anchorage School District. In fact, there are 80 schools in the district being assessed for damage. This has been corrected.
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