Rose Hamilton Elementary and Richmond High School are both recovering from water damage caused by burst pipes over winter break.

Richmond Community Schools officials initially said RHS students would return to in-person instruction after a week of repairs, but additional moisture testing revealed that the school needed more time to dry out. Students will continue to attend live classes online until Jan. 30.

About 90,000 gallons of water leaked from RHS’ second floor math wing to the science and technology areas along the main hallway on the first floor.

Assistant Superintendent Dawn Sonsini is pleased that student attendance rates are comparable to those for in-person instruction. Teachers have been collaborating and adapting well.

On Jan. 12, the RHS Career Center, which was unaffected by water damage, opened as a fifth location offering students WiFi and space to work. It joins the existing Boys & Girls Clubs of Wayne County and Morrisson-Reeves Library study areas. Students are to use Door 37 to enter. RHS’ cafeteria also began serving breakfast (8:30-9 a.m.) and lunch (11:15 a.m.-noon or 1:30-2:15 p.m.).

Although Centerville-Abington Community Schools reopened Rose Hamilton Elementary for in-person learning, some ceiling insulation needs to be replaced.

Water pools in an RHS hallway. Supplied

Superintendent Mike McCoy said he couldn’t praise the district’s maintenance team enough because they quickly discovered and minimized the damage.

Because of the extreme cold, Travis Tollett had been monitoring building temperatures on his phone on Christmas Day. He noticed a decrease at Rose Hamilton. Tollett discovered a boiler pipe had burst. Water flooded the second grade hallway and entered some classrooms.

Tollett notified district officials. Rick Stapleton, Yancy Sons, Chris Wisener, Avery McCoy, Assistant Superintendent Sean Stevenson and McCoy spent several hours on Christmas afternoon and evening cleaning up water.

The next day, five more water pipes burst after warming up, prompting more hours of cleanup. The water flooded five rooms and four hallways, Stevenson said.

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Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.