Burst Pipes In Wake Of Storm Force Closure Of Cyrus Peirce Middle School

The Cyrus Peirce Middle School is closed today after multiple classrooms were flooded and cold following burst pipes in the aftermath of the powerful winter storm that hit the island over the weekend. Eleven of the middle school’s classrooms have been impacted, about 25 percent of the total number of classrooms in the building, forcing principal Michael Horton to make the difficult decision to cancel classes today. 

Massachusetts law requires schools to maintain a minimum temperature of 68 degrees fahrenheit throughout the building during periods of cold weather, so even after the flooding had been addressed, the temperature in numerous classrooms did not meet that threshold. 

The winter storm knocked out power at the schools for roughly 30 hours over the weekend, and the generator was only keeping a few rooms warm, while temperatures plummeted elsewhere. When power returned, school facilities staff checked the boiler unit on Sunday and it appeared to be working normally, Horton said. But by Monday morning, pipes in some of the heating units that had frozen over the weekend burst, flooding classrooms and leaving them well below the minimum temperature required by state law. 

“Water was spilling into the hallways,” Horton told the School Committee Tuesday night. 

A technician arrived on the island Tuesday from off-island and is working to fix the heating components in each classroom, but the repairs will not be completed in time to allow for school to happen today. 

“Today (Tuesday) was tough because I thought the worst was behind us, and then all the sudden, boom, we’ve got five move classes flooded,” Horton said yesterday. “It took over an hour for 12 people to mop up all the water in those rooms.”

Students were relocated, and the CPS administration went out and purchased eight space heaters from Marine Home Center in an attempt to raise the temperatures in some of the classrooms. But given the size of those areas, Horton said, “they didn’t really do much. But it’s something.”

In a message to CPS families and staff Tuesday night, superintendent Beth Hallett said: “I know that this latest issue has been an added challenge after a difficult few weeks; please know that we are doing everything possible to be sure that the pipes are fixed ASAP, heat is restored, and there are no additional risks.”

She thanks staff for their patience and understanding, and singled out the school facilities and grounds team for its assistance in clearing the water from the classrooms on Monday and Tuesday.

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