Schools struggle through cold with frozen pipes, dead buses

LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) I woke up to phone calls and emails Tuesday morning from my kids' superintendent saying school was canceled because of the frigid temperatures. Parents across the region received similar messages as districts decided whether it was safe for kids to go to school.

"So I was at home; I had a frozen water pipe myself," said Ian Smith, the principal at Lebanon High School.

The hallways were empty Tuesday at Lebanon High School. New Year's Day, the principal was notified that water was gushing from the ceiling. The school's heating system had failed, causing pipes to freeze and burst in several spots.

"Some staff desks, some papers got wet, chairs and tables were pushed out of the way. But for the most part, I think the damage was minimal," Smith said.

The science wing had the most damage. Smith says thankfully, the chemicals stored there were all put away properly.

"So as a result, little impact on our lab prep room," he said.

Across the Connecticut River in the Hartford School District, Superintendent Tom DeBalsi says it was business as usual.

"You know we've had some cold classrooms that we have been addressing all day," DeBalsi said.

A letter was sent home to parents warning them of the freezing weather.

"Buses were the big concern," DeBalsi said.

Hartford's bus company started its fleet several times over the school vacation week to make sure the diesel engines would perform. But other districts did not fare as well, having to either delay the start of school or close altogether. For both the Rivendell and Oxbow districts, buses not starting or not staying on when they did due to the cold, forced them to cancel.

Across New Hampshire, 125 schools were affected. In Lebanon's case, it took a team of faculty and staff to correct the problem.

"They weren't assigned to be here and responded late into the evening on what was supposed to be a holiday, so we are grateful for that," Smith said.

The principal at Lebanon High School says they plan to be up and running Wednesday morning with the students back in the classroom.

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