REDMOND, OR -- Engineers are evaluating the roof of M.A. Lynch Elementary in Redmond after Students were evacuated Thursday morning due to concerns of the snow load on the roof.
Superintendent Mike McIntosh tells KBND News, "There’s some visible sagging in some of the roof portions, but that’s the extent of it. The building’s been there since 1969, I think it was, and it’s been sagging for a long time. We just think the snow-load factor demands that we take some measures to protect the health and safety of our kids and staff." He's mainly concerned about Lynch, although the district closed all schools Thursday afternoon after a number of roof leaks were reported. McIntosh says students were never in immediate danger but to err on the side of caution all facilities will remain closed through the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday. "The code changed in ’87 or ’84 or something, so we believe with great confidence that our more modern structures will in fact sustain the snow load we’re experiencing right now. But, the old buildings, I think it’s just prudent to be cautious."
He says Lynch students dropped off by parents were turned around Thursday before they could get out of the car, but those on buses had to wait to be picked up by their parents. "This is a tougher call than even a snow day call in the sense that we don’t know necessarily what’s between what we can see from the inside and what you can see from the outside. We can measure the depth of the snow, we can calculate its weight; and frankly, the only serious solution would be to remove it. And, that’s our plan for Lynch, is to get the snow removed from there and eliminate the hazard." He adds, "Shoveling the snow off the roof is only half the battle. If there’s damage, and I say ‘if,’ that will still be there. There may be some repairs to the structure, if in fact some damage is detected. Again, we don’t know that there is at Lynch, but there’s a recipe there that has a higher potential than other places."
According to McIntosh, engineers visited all Redmond schools in the last 12 months to conduct seismic assessments. But, he says checking for earthquake readiness is very different than predicting the risk of roof collapse under a massive snow load.
Dominoes continued to fall, later in the day, after Bend-La Pine and Redmond schools shuttered buildings. The Sisters School District announced Thursday night all schools would close to allow roof assessments. And, Central Christian School in Redmond said they would close Friday so crews could safely remove snow from its roof.
Crook County and Jefferson County 509-J schools both said their districts would remain open although officials are monitoring all facilities.