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Springfield school district declares emergency following ice storms, opens services for families

Fallen debris at Thurston High School in Springfield.
Springfield Public Schools
Fallen debris at Thurston High School in Springfield.

Springfield Public Schools has declared an emergency following this week’s devastating ice storms.

The district reports that, as of Thursday, 11 of its 20 schools were still without power, while downed utility lines and branches have created hazards across the campuses.

“There are portions of every building that have issues that we need to manage and deal with,” said Brett Yancey, the district’s incident commander.

Yancey said there's significant damage inside some buildings, including around 100 leaks at Agnes Stewart Middle School alone.

He predicts that the cost of the damage will reach six figures. That would exceed the district’s $25,000 insurance deductible.

Wednesday’s emergency declaration is designed to free up funding for repairs. Moving forward, Yancy said the district will work to file a claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We’re positioned well enough that we can handle this internally for now,” said Yancey. “But we are going to need to talk about a reimbursement process for the amount of money that we're spending.”

Springfield Public Schools

School Closures

With the buildings currently unfit for students, Yancy said the district may consider teaching remotely, but that’s complicated until the community’s internet access returns.

The district doesn’t yet have a plan for when in-person classes will begin again, but Yancey said officials expect to discuss the matter again this weekend.

“Our situation changes day by day,” said Yancey. “If power comes on in the building, we're able to assess it. That's one more building we could put kids in.”

Springfield Public Schools is among multiple nearby districts that will remain closed through Friday. In its announcement, the Creswell School District cited “hazardous conditions of fallen trees, limbs, power lines and loss of power."

Respite Centers

In the meantime, Springfield’s district is opening two of its functioning buildings as respite centers for students and families.

Yancey said with so many people in Springfield losing services, the community has a shared responsibility to step in.

“If one of the areas we can help is to get them a hot meal, to allow them to come into a warm environment out of the weather conditions, then we want to be able to provide that,” he said.

The day shelters are located at Springfield High and Two Rivers-Dos Rios Elementary. They’ll be open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Updated hours and meal schedules for the respite centers are available on the Springfield Public Schools website.

Yancey said there’s already enough volunteers, and encourages community members to help out elsewhere in the community.

“I'm in awe and I'm humbled by (the) level of commitment from our employees,” said Yancey,

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.
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