Bates Middle Status Unknown After Boiler Incident Forced Wednesday Closure
Anne Arundel County Public School spokesman Bob Mosier said that the opening status of Bates Middle School in Annapolis for Thursday (Jan. 3) is unknown as of 4 p.m. on Wednesday. A problem with one of the two boilers at the school forced closure of the school on Wednesday.
A number of students from South County attend Bates, a Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) magnet school. Mosier said that parents will be alerted via automated phone calls, on Facebook and Twitter as well as email as to the status of school on Thursday.
Around 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Mosier said that maintenance workers were attempting to refire a boiler at the school when a “puffback” or release of built-up pressure occurred. Two maintenance workers were taken to the hospital. Neither suffered burns, Mosier said, but were under observation.
The building has been cleared by the building inspector, fire inspector and boiler inspector. Currently there is no hot water to the building, but cold water faucets and toilets are operational. Mosier said that a cleaning team was at the school on Wednesday, working to handle any “lingering issues.”
Bates uses alternating boilers, and safety tests are being run on the second boiler in anticipation of using it on Thursday.
On Wednesday, students were immediately evacuated after the incident, which one eighth grader said “sounded like an explosion.”
Students were taken to Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and kept in the auditorium while emergency crews and inspectors assessed the situation. School was closed at 11:30 a.m. and parents notified by phone and email. Some parents came to the school to pick up their children before the 11:30 a.m. dismissal. Here is th: text of the message parent’s received:
Hello parents, this is Anne Arundel County Public Schools with a message to let you know that due to a boiler malfunction that caused the evacuation of students and staff, Bates Middle School will be closing at 11:30 a.m. today. Bus riders will assume their usual routines – and be dropped off at their regular bus stops. Walkers and car riders will also leave the school according to the standard dismissal procedures. Students will remain safe in the Maryland Hall auditorium until dismissal. Please know that today’s incident resulted in the precautionary transport of two school staff members. The building is still being assessed by the fire department and we will update you as soon as possible regarding the status of school for tomorrow. Thank you.
Mosier said that students and staff were allowed back into classrooms at Bates at about 11:05 a.m. to retrieve their books, bags, coats, and other belongings. They were dismissed from their classrooms at 11:30 am.
One South County mom said that the email to parents caused her confusion, because it first said that the school was closed, and then said students would be at Maryland Hall until dismissal. When she got to Maryland Hall, they told her that she couldn’t take her child without checking out of Bates, which she believed was closed. In the end, she went to Bates and got the permission to take her child home.
PVA students were bused to Annapolis Middle School, where they waited for a couple of hours until dismissal, at 2:55 p.m., when they boarded the school bus back to South County.
The PVA magnet program brings students from the Severna Park, Broadneck, Arundel, Southern and South River feeders into Annapolis for school. Because the early dismissal only impacted Bates Middle, students whose parents did not pick them up had no transportation home until the 2:55 p.m. dismissal from Annapolis Middle.
Mosier said that had their been a closure of all schools, that buses would’ve arrived to take all students home. However, since only one school was involved, they accommodated students at Annapolis Middle. Mosier said that the students were given lunch at Annapolis Middle and further, were supervised while waiting for dismissal at 2:55 p.m.
Mosier said that the evacuation and re-entry of students and staff proceeded in an orderly fashion. Mosier said that schools regularly practice emergency drills.
“And that paid off today,” he said.