Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said nearly all D.C. public schools will reopen Thursday because inspectors determined a day after the earthquake that they were safe for students.
Gray said that 100 of 125 schools have been fully inspected, but that the 25 that remain to be examined are not expected to pose issues. The only schools in real question, he said, are Bancroft Elementary and School Without Walls. At Bancroft, on Newton Street NW in Ward 1, an exterior wall along a path used by children needs to be stabilized. Officials said work could be completed later this evening, to allow the school to open Thursday.
School Without Walls, the high school on the GWU campus in Foggy Bottom, might be closed for the remainder of the week, Gray said. Cracks and missing bricks from a belltower and chimneys pose a hazard to pedestrian traffic outside the school.
Columbia Heights Education Campus on 16th St. NW, which appeared earlier today to pose the most serious repair problems, turned out to have only “cosmetic” concerns, according to City Administrator Allen Lew. Lew said officials originally suspected that a buckled gymnasium floor, which sits above the school cafeteria, was evidence of a failed structural truss. “It wasn’t as serious as we thought,” Lew said.
Following is the text of a statement from the school system:
Almost all District of Columbia Public Schools will open on time Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, after structural engineers conducted inspections at schools throughout the district and determined the buildings to be safe, said Chancellor Kaya Henderson.
School Without Walls High School in Ward 2 will not open tomorrow. Engineers are reviewing the building to determine the repairs necessary to reopen the building. School Without Walls staff is not expected to report to work Thursday.
Engineers will continue inspecting schools throughout the evening. Families should monitor the DCPS website, www.dcps.dc.gov, as well as DCPS social media (@DCPublicSchools on Twitter and facebook.com/dcpublicschools) for updates throughout the evening in the event that other schools are not ready to open.
“As Chancellor of DC Public Schools, I am responsible for the safety of all children and adults who enter our buildings. I take this responsibility extremely seriously,” said Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “The decision to close schools Wednesday was made after careful deliberation and consultation with engineering experts. I believed then and I believe now that this was the right decision to ensure the safety of DCPS community following a serious earthquake that damaged buildings and closed schools throughout the Washington, D.C., area.”
DCPS school-based and custodial staff conducted preliminary inspections of all 126 school buildings Tuesday evening and Wednesday. The Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM) then deployed structural engineers to inspect each school, advise the Mayor and Chancellor on any recommended closures and prioritize repairs. Nearly all schools required only minor repairs to reopen.
Thirteen schools were identified by engineers for further inspection, but have since been cleared and will reopen Thursday. Engineers expect to complete inspections this evening.
Families with questions should call the CRT at 202-478-5738