Thursday was a busy day for Facilities Director Mark Deming who was up on the roof overseeing the removal of snow.
Wednesday, all Branford schools were closed due to weather and around noon that day, Schools notified parents, guardians and staff of WIS students to let them know the intermediate on Thursday due to roof conditions. All other Branford schools were in session.
In a press release today, Hernandez stated that the school employed a structural engineer from Horton Associates to assess the load capacity of the media center portion of the WIS roof. It was recommended that the snow be removed.
While Deming was up on the media center portion of the WIS roof directing the snow removal, which was craned out by the ton, a crew of workers from New Haven’s Labor Ready used manpower to shovel off other areas of the school’s roof. As the snow rained down in sheets, BOE Building and Grounds employee Tom Vailette used a tractor plow to remove the fallen snow from the ground and walkways.
This group effort was set in motion by Hernandez who called the snow removal a proactive measure in his email on Wednesday.
Thursday around noon, Hernandez contacted members of the school PTAs explaining the importance of removing the more than three feet of snow and ice from the media center portion of the WIS roof.
He wrote: “The accumulation at this expansive portion of the roof is significant and unlike any other roof in the district and because of this anomaly the removal required the use of a crane, thus classes were cancelled.”
Hernandez added that all school roofs were being checked and he noted, “Other buildings continue to be monitored and some leaking has occurred; however, no other roof at this point requires the action taken today at WIS.”
Hernandez stated that all school principals were working with Deming to ensure their roofs were in fair condition.
Just after 9 a.m. on Thursday, parents and guardians who were unaware that WIS was canceled arrived to drop off students. Ming Tan, uncle of two WIS students, said he was fine with the decision to close the school. “Precaution,” he commented as he watched the crane hauling the snow off the roof, “would be understandable.” Ming added that he was also happy that school was canceled as Thursday was the Chinese New Year – a holiday, he felt, should have been observed by his family anyway.
Other parents have expressed concern about the safety of school roofs to Branford Patch.
Amy Graver, who owns in Branford, has a three-year-old daughter at the . She wrote, “It is a very large roof and completely flat. To our knowledge, no one from the town has even looked at their roof. We're extremely concerned for the infants to pre-school children who attend BELC. I'd like to know what Superintendent Hernandez plan is for inspecting all of our schools. Can he share it with the parents?”
Hernandez could not be reached for comment but his email to the PTA and his recent press release shows he is working with the Facilities Department and school principals to ensure safety of students is a high priority. Hernandez’s email, however, did not specify which school roofs were leaking. His press release on Friday noted that the WIS media center portion of the roof was 60 percent clear of snow and would be back in session on Monday, Feb. 7.
Herenandez is not alone in the action he is taking. Thursdayy, Governor Dannel P. Malloy released a statement noting, “The state Department of Education has sent out a notice to every single school urging them to clear their roofs, and I’ve been reinforcing that message in my conversations with municipal leaders, as well.” Malloy furthers that “the state Department of Public Works has been out often over the last few weeks clearing the roofs off state buildings, and that will continue. We all need to do our part to help keep our communities safe during this prolonged period of winter weather.”
Here in Branford, Anthony B. Cinicola, head of the town , was busy all day inspecting roofs. Alex Palluzzi, Director of the said he and Cinicola were up on the Community House roof ensuring the safety of the building. Apart from having to clear the gutters, Palluzzi said the facility, which was opened in 1963, is in good shape. Palluzzi said the roof over the basketball courts was last replaced in 2008. “We’re pretty confident we have a good roof,” he stated.
Check back with Branford Patch for more details on how the town is evaluating the safety and snow removal of roofs.
In other school news, Hernandez stated in his email to PTA members that the public discussion regarding the school calendar changes in light of snow days will now be Monday, Feb. 7 following the at Branford High School in the lecture hall.