DETROIT (WXYZ) — Disaster response teams lined the streets outside Southeastern High School in Detroit on Monday. They were called after staff preparing for the start of the new semester made a devastating find. A pipe burst over break on the third floor of the more than 100-year-old building, causing millions of dollars in damage.
“The flooding damaged the vast majority of classrooms beyond use. The building will require extensive repairs and restoration and will take the District nearly two months to complete. To ensure students continue to have access to instruction and learning, Southeastern will shift to daily online learning until repairs to classrooms are completed. Students may pick up laptops on Tuesday and Wednesday. Online learning will begin on Thursday. The gym was not damaged so athletics may continue with a modified schedule. Grab and Go meals will be provided weekly,” said Chrystal Wilson, APR, Assistant Superintendent, in a statement.
The district hosted a virtual meeting for parents Monday evening to discuss plans.
“They have a catastrophe on their hands right now,” said Lakia Wilson-Lumpkins, the Executive Vice President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.
Wilson-Lumpkins stopped by the school to assess teacher needs. She says teachers are left figuring out how they will teach, when material they put together, in many cases, is now gone.
“Much of their environment is destroyed. Walls, flooring, technology, millions and millions of dollars of damage,” she said.
It is not the only school where pipes burst over the cold winter break. Roberto Clemente Academy in Southwest Detroit also suffered damage, but much less. It is expected to be closed until Thursday while crews make repairs.
Wilson-Lumpkins says her history as a school counselor means she is thinking about how traumatic it is for students and staff to experience yet another disruption, especially at Southeastern High.
“I think we need to deal with the emotions of catastrophe in your classroom, in your school. What does that feel like? You have to deal with the heart first,” she said.