By Kailey Fisicaro

The Bulletin

The roof has collapsed over the gym at the Highland Magnet at Kenwood School in Bend, prompting Bend-La Pine Schools to cancel classes at all schools Thursday and Friday, the district announced Thursday morning.

No one was in the gym at the time of the collapse, according to a district news release. However, officials decided to close all schools as a safety measure to have roof assessments conducted districtwide. Bend-La Pine Schools administration building in downtown Bend was also closed.

Students riding buses to school Thursday would be taken to schools, the release stated, and the district asked parents to pick up their children as soon as possible. Staff members at all schools were instructed to leave schools and return home after all students had left buildings.

The Redmond School District announced late Thursday morning that it would close Lynch Elementary as a safety precaution because of snow on the roof. The Redmond School District has been monitoring all of its roofs, but Lynch Elementary is the one staff would like to reassess, according to Gina Blanchette, executive assistant to the superintendent and school board.

Sisters School District is also aware of the impact the “record breaking snowpack” is having on its facilities, it said in a release late Thursday morning. BBT, a Bend engineering and architecture firm, is working on upcoming bond projects for the district and recently inspected all of the district’s building plans, according to the district.

Based on BBT’s evaluation and district staff’s physical inspection of facilities, Sisters School District will keep school in session, the release said. It also plans to continue regular physical inspections to make sure facilities are safe for students and staff.

J.J. Howard, a second and third grade teacher at Highland Magnet in Bend, was leaving the school to go home at about 8:45 a.m., about 45 minutes after the school district sent out notice to parents that schools would be closed Thursday.

He thinks those running the Bend Park and Recreation District before-school program that occurs in the gym were the first to come across the collapse. Howard said he was just “so thankful” that the collapse occurred when no one was inside.

“If it had to come down, it’s good it came down when no one was there,” Howard said.

Beyond the before-school program, P.E. activities also take place in the gym, especially this time of year, Howard said. And the music room is located in the basement of the gym.

Across the street from the school, a few parents took in the damage, some becoming emotional.

Lauren Grigsby shed tears looking at what used to be her son’s school gym. Since the Grigsby family lives a ways away from the school, it takes about a half an hour to get there this time of year. Students can arrive to school as early as 8:30 a.m.

So when the school district sent out notice about the collapse at 8 a.m., including via text message, Grigsby was already on the road and not looking at her phone.

She found out about the collapse by seeing it for herself while trying to drop off her kindergartner, Connor, 5.

Police cars and tape surrounded the perimeter of the school, and the lane of Newport Avenue directly in front of the school was blocked off from traffic. Cars using Newport Avenue for their morning commute crept along the street, likely surveying the damage. Other roofs at Highland Magnet looked to have at least a foot of snow atop them.

Lindsey Grieb, another parent of Highland Magnet students, comforted Grigsby and said seeing the collapse made her emotional too. Her fourth-grader, Ryder, 10, used a smartphone to capture the scene while her third-grade son, Bryce, 8, stood nearby.

She and Lauren were also relieved the caving in of the gym roof occurred when no one was inside.

The roof collapse at the Kenwood school building, which opened for the 1919-20 school year, is the second to be reported at a major building in the last two days. The roof at the former KorPine mill, now owned by Hooker Creek Cos., collapsed Wednesday. In addition, a wall at the FedEx distribution center in northeast Bend buckled.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, kfisicaro@bendbulletin.com

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