Deep freeze fractures Francis School pipes

Forces classes to be canceled for at least two days ·

EAST PROVIDENCE — The deep freeze affecting much of the country took its toll locally as several pipes burst at the Myron J. Francis Elementary School in Rumford Tuesday morning, Jan. 2, forcing the cancelation of classes for at least two days.

Superintendent Kathryn Crowley said administrators were alerted to the problem in the wee hours Tuesday when Facilities Department personnel readied buildings throughout the district for a return to school following the holiday recess.

A pipe on an exterior wall burst causing the initial leak and necessitated shutting off the heat to repair. But because water inside other pipes throughout the building had already started to freeze, several more began to leak by midday and in the afternoon. Five pipes in total at Francis fractured because of the bone-chilling temperatures.

"I was told at about 4:30 a.m. about the first leak," Superintendent Crowley said Tuesday evening. "We've had someone there ever since. The guys have been wonderful. They're going to be there 24-7. The maintenance guys, the plumbers, the HVAC guys, the insurance company, they're all there. They've been great."

The plan as of late Tuesday evening was to cancel classes at Francis Wednesday, Jan. 3. And with a significant snowstorm if not a near-blizzard predicted to hit the area Thursday, Jan. 4, the superintendent said it's likely she was going to cancel classes for the remainder of the week. All the while, she added, work to remedy the problems at Francis would continue.

"Of all the buildings, I wouldn't have been concerned about Francis. It was the older schools I was worried about, but they've held out so far, fingers crossed," Superintendent Crowley said. "We're hoping to have Francis fixed. We're going to work all week and the weekend to make sure. If not, we have to have a Plan B in place for Monday morning, just in case."

The superintendent noted as well because of the frigid temperatures the heat in all buildings was maintained at normal levels during the break.

"We never touched them, didn't lower them like we normally do," she said.


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