Teachers return to classrooms for first time since Friday's earthquake
Teachers from just over half of the schools in the Anchorage School District returned to their classrooms Wednesday to assess and clean up any lingering debris from last Friday's devastating earthquake. Before teachers and staff at Bartlett High School were allowed to their classrooms, the district held a two-hour meeting with the group to explain the safety measures that have been taken thus far.
"Just to hear where the status was and what the school district has done and the fact that they brought in different construction companies," teacher Jenni Klaameyer said. "Air quality and what is being done to make sure this is a safe building. If they didn't give the go ahead, they wouldn't be in here, we wouldn't be here and so, we're here."
Bartlett started as a red-tag school, meaning it was unsafe to occupy. Over the weekend, the school was elevated to an amber status, which means it is under repair. On Wednesday, three of the five floors are now green-tagged, which means they are safe to enter.
"We're hoping that we can get our purple level elevated to green-tag by the end of the day," Bartlett principal Sean Prince said. "That's the fourth floor. Hopefully, orange hall, which is on the fifth floor, will be green-tagged by Friday."
The school district and the construction crews have been working around-the-clock to get as many schools as possible ready for class by Monday. The work being is quite impressive to the Bartlett teaching staff.
"When I do my walk-throughs, I'm just like wow," Prince said. "I think the crews are doing two, eight-hour shifts. When one is done, another steps in and they are moving. Guys are busy."
"Things are really, really good," Klaameyer said. "We got lucky. My room looks like nothing happened. The fact that ceiling tiles are in — because they were shaking pretty good when we were leaving. All I really need to do is vacuum."
"I was expecting to be flexible," Bartlett teacher Nathan Walters said. "I was expecting to have to be teaching in a cafeteria or library at least for a day but, to be able Monday morning to come back and just get right into it, that's pretty incredible."
The school district is asking all teachers to help one another in cleaning their classrooms and to work through the weekend if possible.
"The district has already given us clearance to compensate teachers for lost time to come," Prince said. "Which is pretty gracious. Come on in we will honor your time, we will take care of you and lets get back to business."
Any parents or members wanting to volunteer to help clean up in schools are also encouraged.
"They can call their principals," school board member Starr Marsett said, "or call the district."
A current status of schools across the district can be found on the school district's website.
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