PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — A Pawtucket elementary school’s first day of class was put on hold because of a failed fire alarm battery, according to the city’s school committee.
Mayor Donald Grebien apologized to families Tuesday after learning Henry J. Winters Elementary School wouldn’t open as planned due to “a number of health and safety items that still need to be addressed.”
“I am sorry for the children and families whose first day of school will be spoiled and pushed back due to this delay,” the mayor said. “I am disappointed that Winters will not open on time like every other school.”
The Pawtucket School Committee convened Wednesday to discuss the matter after Grebien slammed the district for not notifying families sooner.
“You are owed an apology and more,” Grebien said. “I will work with all involved to get to the bottom of why this unacceptable lack of communication happened to ensure it never happens again.”
The school committee cited a back-up battery, which would ensure that the fire alarm still worked in the event of a power outage, for the delay.
The back-up battery didn’t work when tested by the city’s fire safety and building code compliance teams Tuesday, which caused the school to fail inspection less than 24 hours before the first day of class.
The school committee said the battery has since been reprogrammed and will be retested Saturday morning. If it passes inspection, students will walk the halls of the brand new school building for the first time on Sept. 6.
If the battery fails, the school committee will reconvene and request the mayor grant a temporary certificate of occupancy that would allow the school to still open next week.
The elementary school was first demolished back in May 2020. Students had been learning inside the Pawtucket School Annex on Central Avenue ever since.