UPDATE: Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward said in a text message shortly after 4:30 p.m. that Ben Eielson Junior/Senior High School was cleared to reopen, and the school district is coordinating with teachers and staff to resume operations.
Ben Eielson Junior/Senior High School is closed due to structural concerns while one classroom at Lathrop High School was also closed, according to Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward.
A building safety review of borough facilities is underway due to snow load issues that have caused some roofs, including a fire house in Ester, to collapse. No injuries have been reported.
Hunter Elementary School, which was evacuated last week, remains closed “pending review and assessment to include strategy for repair,” the mayor wrote in an email.
Snow has been removed from the roofs of some schools, depending on the school’s age and method of construction, Ward added.
The borough owns all school buildings and maintains them in conjunction with the school district.
“All of our occupied facilities have been visually inspected by staff,” Ward wrote. “Some have identified areas of concern. Others are going through further review.”
The building evaluations are being conducted by borough and school district maintenance staff.
“If concerns, such as a crack in a wall, are identified we dispatch our engineering team to do a visual assessment to verify and size up the potential problem,” Ward wrote. “If it warrants, based on our staff’s visual review, we may temporarily close a building until a more thorough review of the structural plans and existing conditions can be done. This may include a third party review.”
North Pole Middle School was evacuated on Friday. KTVF Newscenter 11 reported that students and staff walked to North Pole Elementary School after visible cracks were discovered on an external wall. The school was assessed, determined to be structurally sound and school reportedly resumed Monday.
Hunter Elementary was closed last week after a staff member reported a cracked inside wall and bowing in a ceiling. The school has continued to offer education services online.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMborough.