A-R school district breezes through recent cold snap
ATHOL — Despite sustained, plunging temperatures and a major snow storm thrown into the mix — the recent deep freeze has been a veritable breeze in the Athol-Royalston Regional School District.
Director of Facilities and Transportation Robert Rouleau said Thursday, “We survived the last snow storm very well. There was an issue with the boiler at the high school, it required resetting, and we had one frozen outside pipe at the middle school, but we shut that down. We got through it.”
He recalled during a cold snap last year the sprinkler system in the Royalston Community School froze. “There was nothing like that this year,” he said, noting he, and a couple other school employees conduct daily building checks at each of the school through the week and over the weekends.
He reported there were no issues with heat in the classrooms, and all were registering in the mid-60s to 70s in temperature.
Taking into account the steady, heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures predicted all along the eastern seaboard, Superintendent of Schools Darcy Fernandez closed the school district two days in a row recently. Considered in the decision were the road conditions throughout the district and the safety of students who walked to school, whether it be the plunging temperatures or the danger of navigating around uncleared sidewalks.
An Athol bylaw requires property owners to clear the sidewalks abutting their property of snow and ice within 24 hours of a storm. Property owners in violation of the bylaw are subject to fines, or potential liability.
The district has used four “snow” days and has one remaining. There have been no delayed openings.
There were no issues reported with the vans or “big yellows” (buses) operated in Athol in Royalston by the Merrifield E.H. Bus Company, according to Rouleau.
There were no equipment breakdowns and the snow clearing conducted on and around the schools’ grounds by school personnel occurred without incident.
The school roofs are currently not an issue, said Rouleau, “We would have to get a significant amount of snow before we would have to clear off the roofs. He noted the district is looking at replacing the roof on the oldest of the four school buildings — the Athol High School, constructed in 1957. “Our next project is to replace the roof, windows and boiler.” Funding would come from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.