ASD rolls up its sleeves to assess school damage across the district
ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop announced Sunday afternoon that the schools would be closed through Friday, Dec. 7. Initially, the school district hoped to have students back in their classrooms on Wednesday, Dec. 5.
"Wednesday might have been a little aggressive," Kelly Kass with the ASD maintenance department said. "Now with the additional time, we're trying to do the best we can to get every school open, not just a few of them."
The school district has a crew of about 100 people checking each of the 4,000 classrooms in the 92 school buildings and facilities — numbers cited by ASD officials on Sunday — within the district. The overall floor space of those buildings covers 7.8 million square feet.
"They are very deliberate because the goal is, we're not going back into a building that isn't for sure secure and safe," Bishop said. "There is so much to clean up and check out. The fire suppression systems in our buildings, many of them went off. The damage isn't structural, it's really damage due to water and ceiling tiles falling down."
So many tiles that the district is having a difficult time finding enough replacements.
"We're having a hard time sourcing enough ceiling tile to complete all of our schools," Kass said. "In the meantime, we're going to secure lights and tiles and just do as many as we can and go from there."
Bartlett, Dimond and Eagle River high schools were some of the hardest hit.
"It's pretty much the same problems in each," Kass said. "Just different areas. Some have more tiles down, others have more water damage and others have glass cleanup."
The district uses a system to let it know which school needs to most work and which ones are close to being ready.
"Schools move from red to yellow, or amber, to green tag status," Bishop said. "When we say 'red tag' that doesn't mean that the school is taken offline totally. It means it is not ready for regular occupancy for teachers to come back in. We haven't had any information that any school is done for the rest of the year. Red tag means it needs a lot of work and cleanup. Bartlett here was just a red tag and moved to amber because of the work done. Some schools may be operational but need certain areas blocked off."
Once a school reaches green tag status, it means it is safe and secure enough to allow teachers back in to assess their classrooms and start their own clean up process.
"We know many students left items behind," Bishop said. "If a school is green tagged, [they] will be allowed in to get their items."
The school district will release the names of the schools and their current status on Monday.
"People want to know the status of their school," Bishop said. "Of the 92 facilities in our district, 64 have had walk-throughs already."
With a lot of information and debris still left to sort through, ASD says it's ready to face the challenge.
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