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Students start long weekend early due to water break at Westfall High School


Trish Bennett, Editor

WILLIAMSPORT – A water main break sent students home early from Westfall High School on Thursday, but district officials believe the problem will be repaired in time for classes to resume as scheduled next week.

Friday was already a planned day off for students, according to Cara Riddel, district superintendent, as well as Presidents Day on Monday, so students should be able to return to class as planned Tuesday morning.

“We had some old piping in the boiler room that gave out,” Riddel said. “The fortunate thing is that it was something we caught pretty quickly.”

Riddel said Westfall is one of about six school districts in the state that still operates its own water plant. Eric Gillispie, maintenance supervisor, happened to be checking EPA samples at the time of the break and noticed the dials were showing the wrong pressure.

“He realized immediately that something was going on, and he caught it within five to 10 minutes,” Riddel said. “We had about four inches of water on the floor before we could get it stopped, but we’re glad it didn’t happen overnight or over the weekend when we would have had a lot of water damage. Fortunately, we were able to keep that to a minimum.”

Riddel said a contractor already was on site working on a project at one of the other buildings Thursday, so they were able to start repairs immediately.

“We knew we would not have it repaired in time to feed our high school students lunch, though,” Riddel said. “We could only feed the elementary school and middle school, and they couldn’t handle the extra capacity of the high school, as well.”

High school students were dismissed at 10 a.m. Thursday, she said.

Once the break is repaired, Riddel said the district must run EPA water tests for at least three days before they are able to provide potable water.

“That gives us a four-day buffer to get the water situation straightened out before students return to school,” she said.

The high school staff workshop scheduled for Friday will go on as planned but will now be held at the middle school, she said.

This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal