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Side Notes 1/18-1/25

A massive snow removal task for Bend-La Pine Schools, and a rolling return to classes

Going Back to School

A "rolling opening" of 30 schools in the Bend-La Pine school district was slated to begin Wednesday, after nearly two weeks of school closures. Students were set to go back to school Jan. 12 after multiple days of closures for heavy snow. That morning though, the roof of the gymnasium at Highland Magnet School at Kenwood was found collapsed, and district officials called for an emergency closure of all schools for snow removal. Crews demolished Kenwood's gym as a safety precaution later that day.

"Engineers have completed structural evaluations of all 38 school and work sites for structural integrity," said Bend-La Pine Superintendent Shay Mikalson in a release Tuesday. "They have now deemed all sites as structurally sound."

According to that release, engineers discovered one school, R.E. Jewell Elementary in southeast Bend's Old Farm district, to have had structural damage. Repairs were complete Tuesday and engineers and City of Bend staffers announced the school sound and ready to reopen Wednesday. The remaining eight schools needed further snow removal before opening.

A common question to district officials: why snow wasn't removed even before the collapse. The district's website states that "maintenance crews were clearing roofs based on priority of leaks and other structural issues." The district is considering changes to its protocols, according to its website.

Said Mikalson in Tuesday's release: "Results received today confirmed that there was no asbestos in the Kenwood gym and therefore is no asbestos present in the demolition rubble. I think this information will allow many to breathe a sigh of relief."

School Year Extension?

Even before the collapse, the Bend-La Pine school district sent a notice to parents, alerting them of an extension to the school year to June 22. District officials do not anticipate extending the year further, and Mikalson "will petition the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for a waiver of instructional time standards," according to the district's website, though instructional hours may be added to the School Improvement Wednesday schedule for this school year.

Redmond Schools Update

Redmond schools were also closed through Tuesday due to snow removal efforts. According to a statement released by Superintendent Michael D. McIntosh, "The good news so far is that our engineers have not found any structural damage. As the snow was removed, the sagging roofs have returned to their normal positions and ceiling tiles have been restored."

193 Tons of Sand Distributed Citywide

As of Tuesday afternoon, crews had distributed 13,000 sand bags—about 193 tons—to people in preparation for the "Big Melt" anticipated after the past weeks' heavy snowfall. The Deschutes County distribution site as well as the City of Bend sandbag sites were out of bags as of Tuesday.

If you didn't get sandbags, city officials are reminding people to "think beyond the sandbag" by clearing roofs of snow, pulling snow away from homes to cut down on contact with siding and foundation vents, to clear storm drains and catch basins in nearby streets and to clear the area around fire hydrants.

Initial concerns were of widespread flooding due to rainfall and warmer temperatures this week; however, expected rainfall totals have since been reduced. Contrary to the conditions in recent weeks, high temperatures are expected to be above freezing throughout the week, according to the National Weather Service.

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