Snow covered roof prompts school closure in Spotsylvania

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY, VA (WWBT) - Snow is keeping some high school students from returning to the classroom. But it's not what's on the ground that has school leaders worried.

A large amount of snow on the roof of a high school gym in Spotsylvania, is what's raising concern. There's about 12 inches of snow packed on top of the roof. 

When maintenance staff looked at the gym ceiling they noticed some steel bracing didn't look quite right.  School officials are playing it safe and keeping the school closed this week for repairs.

Snow has kept Lori Herrera's 9th grader out of school for quite some time now.

"We've been out of school gosh 10, 11, 12 days," said Herrera.

Her son's vacation from the classroom just got extended.

"On the roof there's about 10 to 12 inches of snow. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but because it's taken so long for the snow to dissipate it makes some concerns about the weight load," said Spotsylvania Schools Maintenance Director, Dr. Scott Worner.

Worner says they had looked at two elementary schools on Friday which checked out fine. But the next day, a snow covered roof collapsed at Blacksburg High School. That sparked inspections at all 31 Spotsylvania school buildings. Chancellor High's gym was deemed unsafe.

"Two of our roofers spotted some bent joists, so we brought in a structural engineer," said Worner.

At this point, Worner said they can't tell if the  damage happened during the snow storms. A contractor will shore up the ceiling so repairs can begin.

The challenge though is removing the snow. His maintenance staff will try using Ice Melt.

"I don't think there's an immanent collapse, but again just taking precautions because we would rather err on the side of safety," said Dr. Worner.

Comforting words for Herrera even though her son is itching to get back into the classroom.

"It's better to be safe than sorry," said Herrera.

Wednesday morning, maintenance staff will get on top the roof to see if the Ice Melt works. Dr. Worner says it's too early to tell when the students will be allowed back into the school.  Right now, it's closed the rest of this week. 

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