Winters Elementary hopeful for students’ return by Friday

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WLNE) — It’s been a long few weeks for the brand-new building of Winters Elementary as they are trying to recover from not one, but two burst heating coils in the last month. 

Now, they’re saying a plan is in place to try to get the 530 students back in class. 

“Leaving this meeting, I’m mad, I’m still very angry that this is happening to our children,” Jim Chellel, the chairman of the Pawtucket School Committee told ABC 6 News. 

The emergency meeting demanded the latest information from contractors and engineers, as to why these coils burst, and how to get the kids back in the building. 

“As soon as the first one went down, and they blamed it on our staff for leaving a window open, I said, ‘I want all the coils looked at,'” Joanne Bonollo, also a school committee member and facilities chairperson said. 

The reason was because of air conditioning units that turned on automatically, dipping temperatures below freezing in the building, which caused the coils to burst. 

“Why did an air conditioning unit, on a building that is six months old, we have to keep that in mind too, it’s a six-month-old building that said, let me put on the air conditioning, we gotta find out why that happened, so there’s going to be people that are held responsible,” Chellel said. 

And the construction company, as well as insurance, are helping the school rebuild. 

“Gilbane and their people have handled all of the structural damage that has occurred,” Bonollo said. 

Now, measures are being taken to prevent further problems, and the remainder of the building is being double checked, to see if its safe for people to return. 

“By the end of this week, we should have children back in the school, so I’m pleased with that, that part makes me happy that kids, we have a light at the end of the tunnel,” Chellel continued. 

The committee hopes all the checks will be done by the end of the day Thursday. 

The Rhode Island Department of Education has granted two more days of distance learning with the hope to get back in class at winters elementary by Friday morning. 

Categories: News, Rhode Island