Burst water pipe causes one-day return to virtual learning


Chase Hunter

Water fountains taped off to prevent students from using them

   Students returned to virtual learning for one day after a water main burst on December 8, cutting off the water supply to the school. The lack of water made the bathrooms and water fountains unusable and forced 1,744 students to stay home.

   While many students, parents, and staff were shocked by the sudden closure of school, Principal Gus Carter was not. 

   “It didn’t really surprise me at all, actually. It was kind of just par for the course,” said Mr. Carter. “The context for me is a little bit different being a principal, I hear about what happens in other buildings much more regularly than other people do.”

   Mr. Carter’s position as principal puts him into a different network of communication that staff and students are not involved in. 

   “I know of at least one, if not two other schools, this year alone, elementary schools, in the same situation,” said Mr. Carter. “That’s why when it happened, I’m not really surprised.”

   The morning of December 8, the administration sent a notice that school would be virtual for the day to the student guardians, and to inform them of the burst water pipe. Most students were at home when the announcement was sent out, but students in Zero Hour PE were not.

   Mrs. Christine Riemer and Mr. Adam Lewis were preparing for gym class when administrators informed them of the pipe bursting. Mr. Lewis then told students that they had to go home, and that they would be having virtual class for the day. This announcement sparked a range of confused and nervous reactions from students. Many students initially assumed they would be going back to fully remote learning because of COVID-19. After being informed that they were not going back to full remote learning, many students, including Myers, felt a wave of relief.

   “I was happy to know that it was a water pipe, not COVID,” said Genesis Myers, junior. “But at the same time, I knew I was not going to do any work. I’m too tired. I’ll just do it in the morning.”

   Despite the shock of virtual learning making a return, Myers and many other students did feel more prepared to do their work at home.

   “I think I was more prepared because I had already experienced it, and I knew what I had to do, but I wasn’t prepared for us to go,” said Myers. “She (Mrs. Riemer) didn’t explain anything, so it just threw me off, but I’m good now.”

   Mr. Carter feels that the experience from last year made it possible for the school to have a virtual learning day as suddenly as it did.

   “On the fly, if we hadn’t had the experience of last year, then I think that day would’ve been a disaster,” said Mr. Carter. “We wouldn’t have known what to do. Actually, I don’t know if we would’ve been able to do anything.”

   Mr. Carter believes that even though the staff and students know what to do in case of a virtual learning day better now than they did last year. He also acknowledges that there is still a lot of room for improvement in the execution of such school days.

   “I don’t think we have formulated, as a district and as a school, enough of a plan for it to be consistent to where students were able to get what they needed and staff were able to get what they needed,” said Mr. Carter.

   This may not be the last virtual learning day students see this year. Snow days and other school emergencies will be covered by a virtual learning day for students, in order to prevent extra days from being added onto the end of the school year.