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Waterline breaks force multiple districts to move to distance learning

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 19:34:31-05

JENKS, Okla. — Students anxiously waiting to get back to class are let down again because of broken water lines. Repairing them is what multiple school districts are focused on, including Jenks Public Schools.

On Monday, the board of education for JPS approved a resolution to declare an emergency. This means the district can quickly go through the proposal process of hiring a contractor to get repairs done to the extensive damage caused by broken water and fire suppression lines.

“The buildings just were not built to accommodate subzero temperatures for multiple days,” said Roger Wright, executive administrator of school operations for JPS.

Some burst pipes gushed for hours before they got to them.

“You would just respond to one and then there was a second and a third and a fourth and fifth," Wright said.

The counting stops at 24. JPS experienced 24 breaks over the past week. They sent water to classrooms, closets, hallways, maintenance facilities, lunchrooms and gyms.

Now, all the water is gone and the district works to dry out. Large dryer hoses snake around the ceilings of Jenks high School while, seemingly, hundreds of fans stay blowing.

‘We just want to get it accomplished as soon as we possibly can and get our students and staff back to in-person learning,” Wright said.

Also in a hurry to get back to class is second-grader Isabella Koch from the town of Avant.

“School is going to be canceled all week because of the water issues,” Koch said.

Her entire town is running dry.

“I believe it was last Monday night, we discovered we had a leak in the middle of the lake,” Shearl Brinson said, mayor of Avant.

Avant Lake is where the town gets its water.

“We had to call divers out to use a chainsaw to cut a hole in the middle of the ice and dive into the water,” Mayor Brinson said. “About 12 feet deep, to figure out we had a broken pipe that could not be repaired.”

The hope is water service will return to Avant on Wednesday. Until then, the town relies on donated water bottles and a 500-gallon mobile water tank.

Avant students get back to class next week. Jenks High schoolers could be back by then too.

Sand Springs Public Schools is another district dealing with damage caused by waterline breaks. Students at both Angus Valley Elementary and the Early Childhood Education Center are in distance learning. Angus students return next week. ECEC students go back to class Tuesday.

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