WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Students can return to school at E.T. Wyman Elementary on Tuesday after a three-day closure, Warwick Superintendent Lynn Dambruch told 12 News.
Students were told to stay home on Wednesday morning as a precautionary measure after a boiler backfired, shooting soot and smoke throughout parts of the building. The school switched to virtual learning while cleaning and air quality testing was conducted.
Air quality test results showed it was safe for students and staff to return to school as of Friday afternoon. Monday was a pre-planned professional development day for teachers, so students were scheduled to be off from school.
“[The boiler] hasn’t really been a problem in the past, but you have to understand that our schools are aging and all of the boilers and a lot of the equipment in schools are failing,” Dambruch said. “We repair them to keep them up and inspect them but this was a surprise.”
The superintendent said the district has begun replacing boiler systems in schools and are targeting the ones that were in worst condition first.
Darlene Netcoh, president of the Warwick Teacher’s Union, said it is a challenge to switch to virtual learning for elementary school students so early in the year.
Netcoh said schools are better prepared for virtual learning in the winter because they anticipate snow days.
Dambruch said her biggest concern was the kindergarten and first-grade students, but older kids are familiarized with virtual learning. The school provided Chromebooks for students who needed to pick one up. According to the superintendent, around 30 parents arrived at Wyman to collect a Chromebook.
Netcoh also said this was the fault of “deferred maintenance” of school buildings in the district and less resources from the city.