MARSHALL COUNTY, KY — Students at Central Elementary and Benton Elementary schools in Marshall County will not be back in the classroom on Monday. Frigid temperatures last month caused pipes to burst in those buildings, and repairs are taking longer than expected.
Marshall County Schools Superintendent Steve Miracle says they’re aiming to have both schools reopened on Tuesday. The rest of the school district will be back, as normal, Monday morning.
From outside the two elementary schools, it seems like business as usual. However, inside you’d find a very different story Friday. Walls are ripped out, desks litter hallways, and classes are blocked off. Miracle says they’re working quickly to be able to bring the students back.
“Our issue had to do with areas where insulation had blown back in the eaves, and that cold wind had come through and hit those pipes,” Miracle says. “And there was nothing we could’ve done with temperature settings to prevent that.”
The single-digit temperatures last month caused sprinkler pipes to freeze and then burst. The district has had to tear out and replace lockers, dry wall and insulation in a majority of the classrooms impacted. The problem came at a time when building materials are hard to come by.
“We’re dealing with buildings that were built in the ’90s, and they were built at a time when the state allowed for drywall and wooden studs to be used in classroom walls. And if we didn’t have that issue in having to dry out all that drywall, we would’ve had a lot less work to do,” Miracle says.
Dehumidifiers are strewn out throughout both elementary schools to ensure everything is dry, and most importantly, free of mold.
“The mold that was located has been cut out,” Miracle says. “So, all of that that was either on shelving or cabinets, that’s been removed. That’s the best thing to do — just to remove it. That was the recommendation of our restoration company.”
Classrooms will look a little different when school is back in session, but students will finish out the school year normally.
Miracle says they’ll also be doing mold treatments and cleaning over the weekend at Benton Elementary and Central Elementary. Miracle says many of the lockers and cabinets with water damage will likely have to be replaced by the district in the summer.
Marshall County is just one of several districts cleaning up damage from frozen pipes. McCracken and Graves counties experienced similar issues, as did Obion County Schools in Tennessee. Obion County also delayed classes until Monday to give teachers time to clean up their rooms.