Late Tuesday evening, a flat section of the Brown School roof that is above the second-floor girls bathroom collapsed.
Thankfully, the building was empty and no one was injured, but we are no less concerned about this collapse. Student safety is always our utmost priority, which is why the City and Schools undertook a massive snow removal effort to clear snow from our school and city building roofs.
Best practices generally allow up to 18 inches of snow on roofs. Our teams were instructed to remove any excess snow to achieve safe depths well below that acceptable level, in most cases to depths of 6 inches or less. All schools, including the Brown School, were evaluated for roof snow prior to, during and after completion of snow removal.
We are still in the midst of a full evaluation of this incident, but our initial review of the cause of the collapse points to the likely combination of several possible contributing factors, none of which would have caused the collapse on their own including, among others: (1) melting of the less than 1 foot of snow on that section of the roof, (2) wood rafters that were found today to be weakened by pre-existing partial rotting that would not have been evident without ripping open the walls as there were no visible leaks, (3) rain that added additional water to the roof overnight. But again, we are still in the midst of a full evaluation and further updates will be provided.
To allow for full inspection and repairs, the Brown School building will remain closed for at least a month, but classes will resume as soon as possible at alternate locations. We are in the process of preparing and outfitting classrooms for Brown School students as follows:
• Kindergarten students will temporarily attend the Capuano Early Childhood Center,
• Grade 1-5 students will be at the Edgerly School, and
• Grade 6 students will be at the East Somerville Community School.
The setup and transfer of classroom materials is a significant move, and we are working as quickly as possible to complete it. Classes for students are canceled for Thursday, March 12, as this preparation continues. Parents, guardians and teachers will be notified as soon as the alternate locations’ rooms are ready for classes. Until further notice, all Community Schools after-school activities will be shifted to the Edgerly School beginning Thursday, March 12.
Parent and Guardian Meeting
All Brown School parents and guardians are invited to attend a meeting tomorrow evening, Thursday, March 12th, at 6:30 p.m., at the East Somerville Community School Auditorium to discuss the temporary relocation of classes and to have any additional questions or concerns addressed. This meeting is for families only. Media are not allowed.