The rear entrance to Winslow Elementary School at 285 Benton Ave., where a water pipe broke on the second floor, forcing cancellation Thursday of in-person classes. Morning Sentinel file

WINSLOW — A water pipe broke during the night at Winslow Elementary School, dumping water into a second-floor hallway and then onto the first floor, forcing the school to close Thursday.

Principal Erica Gower said she discovered the problem when she unlocked the door Thursday morning. She then notified Superintendent Peter Thiboutot.

“When she walked in, she immediately called me and said there’s an issue — there was water all over the floor,” Thiboutot said later Thursday.

The broken pipe occurred at a water fountain in a second-floor hallway, at the north end of the building, according to Thiboutot.

The water went through the floor, damaging ceiling tiles on the first floor and flooding a hallway near the media center, he said.

The water flowed in both directions, including near the school’s main entrance.

The Winslow Fire Department was called, and Maintenance Director Shelley Phillips organized the cleanup, according to Thiboutot, who applauded Phillips, the technology director and custodial workers for their work.

Fire Chief Ronnie Rodriguez said firefighters secured the water supply to the building and used a vacuum and squeegee to clean up the water. They also helped remove debris from falling ceiling tiles.

“It’s what we do,” Rodriguez said. “We’re called up to do anything and everything.”

Fans were used to dry parts of the school at 285 Benton Ave., according to Thiboutot.

Friday is a planned in-service day for teachers, so students will not be attending the school, which is expected to open as usual next week.

“Everything is going to be good to go on Monday,” Thiboutot said.

Winslow Elementary School enrolls 557 students from prekindergarten through grade six, but the 78 sixth-graders this year are attending school at Winslow Junior High School to allow for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Thiboutot.

Winslow Elementary students are organized into two pods whose schedules alternate each week, with one pod attending school in person Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the other pod Tuesday and Thursday.


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