Monday, June 17, 2024

SPHS main building deemed unsafe after staff room ceiling collapses; double shift system to be applied

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The new school year is about to start, and some parents in San Pedro Town are concerned about the safety of the San Pedro High School’s (SPHS) infrastructure. Some days ago, it was reported that the staff room’s ceiling on the main building’s third floor collapsed. According to some parents, there have been no updates on the situation or the building conditions, even though classes are commencing on Monday, August 21st. On Friday, August 18th, Principal Emil Vasquez explained that they would not be using the main building and instead host students in another building on campus called Hon. Manuel Heredia Hall and implement a shift system.
According to Vasquez, this building has been checked and is considered safe for students. “It has about eight classrooms. We are planning to have about ten classes in the morning and another ten in the afternoon,” said Vasquez. He added that it is uncertain how long this shift system will last as it will depend on the assessment of the main building and how much repairs may need to be done. Vasquez added that the online system applied during Covid-19 will not be applied, and students will receive their classes in person every day. Vasquez mentioned that although online studying is not considered if it is needed, they will be ready to provide that service to students.
Images of the collapsed ceiling were shared on Thursday, August 10th showing significant damages to the staff room and equipment. Some parents who voiced their concerns welcome the idea of the shift system, as these will ensure their children’s and the school staff’s safety. They understand that such a system may set students back in their studies; however, safety should be a priority now. The SPHS noted that the incident it’s a major one and that construction engineers had visited the school to assess the damage.

The damage shows the entire ceiling collapsed on top of furniture, including office equipment such as monitors. According to school reports, no one was in the staff room when the roof collapsed. They feel blessed that such a flaw in the building’s infrastructure happened during the summer break when the school was closed and no students were on campus.
One of the engineers inspecting the building, Irving Thimbriel, commented the building was not built to withstand the island’s natural elements. The main SPHS building has been deemed unsafe to house students, and a major overhaul may be needed. According to Thimbriel, the initial evaluation of the structure found issues with the building’s beams caused by the intense salty air blowing on the island. The suggestion for constructions near the sea is to build them more robustly. As with the high school, proper evaluation is needed before adding additional classrooms when expanding a building.
The SPHS is the only high school in San Pedro with a growing student population. Its compound hosts students attending the evening division (high school night classes for adults) and the San Pedro Junior College. The school compound houses nearly 1,000 students from different divisions.

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