A broken pipe caused water to leak into one classroom and the hallway of Highland Elementary School, leading to early dismissal of the students. School was back in session the next day.

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REEDSPORT — Highland Elementary School closed early Thursday, Nov. 14, when a broken pipe resulted in the flooding of one classroom and the hall.

According to Superintendent Jon Zwemke, water began leaking from the wall in one of the classrooms, getting deep enough to cover shoes. Along with the classroom, water also began moving into the hallway. There was a quick response by the Highland staff, though, as they worked to keep the students safe, get the water out of the building, and stop the leak.

"It was a heroic effort by the Highland staff," said Zwemke.

Once the wall was opened, it was determined the water was coming from a broken 1-inch copper waterline. The wall in question was not part of the school's recent renovations, and it is unknown what caused the line to break.

With the water shut off, and restrooms unavailable for the rest of the day, the school and district decided to send students home early. It was already near the end of the day, so little instruction time was lost. Zwemke said parents were very understanding and supportive as they made arrangements to pick up their kids, or have someone meet them at home. An alert was also sent to parents and guardians through the automated alert system and the district's Facebook page.

"It was a well done effort with everyone chipping in," said Zwemke, of how the staff and community have responded to the situation. "I don't like things breaking, but overall it was a good effort."

The school district was able to quickly make arrangements to get the pipe repaired and the school was open again on Friday. Zwemke said the class whose room was initially affected was temporarily moved to another room while their normal one was cleaned and repaired. The class was back in its normal room on Monday, Nov. 18.

The superintendent noted that every evening, 117 blowers and 18 industrial dehumidifiers, supported by two power managers, have been brought into the school to make sure everything is dry and there's no chance of mold or bacteria growing in the walls, after they're closed. Zwemke said it takes a couple hours for the equipment to be loaded into the building every evening, then just as long in the morning to get everything out of the way for the school day.

The full process of getting everything suitably dry is expected to take a week or two.

Reporter Adam Robertson can be reached at 541-297-3590, or by email at adam.robertson@theworldlink.com.


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