Work on heating issues in East Providence schools continues

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EAST PROVIDENCE — Wednesday, Jan. 8, brought little relief to students and workers at the city’s academic facilities, specifically East Providence High School and Waddington Elementary.

Work continued at the high school in an attempt to bring warmth to those teachers and pupils in several classrooms with faulty blowers.

At Waddington, a burst pipe caused by the frigid temperatures forced the cancellation of classes. The problem has been fixed and the School Department announced all buildings will open on time as scheduled Thursday, Jan. 9.

Back to the high school, temps in some rooms remained below what most would deem comfortable if not acceptable. One teacher reported room temperature at exactly 60 degrees around mid-day.

School Committee Chairman Joel Monteiro, who was only notified of the situation at EPHS late Tuesday evening, was joined by fellow Committee member Tony Ferreira in spending most of Wednesday at the high school in the stead of Superintendent Kim Mercer, away from the area on a scheduled absence.

The chairman said the pair arrived at the site at 4:45 a.m. and walked the building with Facilities Manager Ed Catelli. Shortly thereafter Mr. Catelli was informed of the situation at Waddington.

Most rooms at EPHS were deemed suitable for use, Chairman Monteiro said, and those that weren’t were closed. Teachers were given the option to take advantage of unused space. Some rooms with drafts had their windows taped to blocked the cold air entering and the warm from exiting. Chairman Monteiro and Mr. Ferreira repeated their walk of the building at least two other times in the morning hours and once more in the afternoon.

The chairman said two blowers have been replaced in time for school Thursday. The four others are expected to be fixed by Monday, Jan. 13, at the latest. Chairman Monteiro added having a full-time HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) member on the facilities crew helped out both at the high school and at Waddington.

“It’s been a record-breaking temperature drop that basically exposed the deficiencies of the (EPHS) building when it comes to its heating efficiency. Those down units will be fixed. The only up side of this is that I think, with the HVAC person in place especially, we’re in a better position to deal with these types of issues in the future,” Chairman Monteiro added.

All involved were expected to catch a bit of break for the end of the week. The forecast is for exterior temperatures to climb at or above freezing Thursday and Friday after barely reaching 20 the previous two days. Daytime temps early next week are predicted to reach the upper 40s and low 50s.

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