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WATERLOO — Lowell Elementary is moving to vacant Area Education Agency facilities in Cedar Falls for the rest of the school year following Wednesday’s partial roof collapse.

The Lowell building, at 1628 Washington St., will not reopen until August for the start of the 2019-20 school year. Waterloo Community Schools announced Thursday that structural engineers and contractors who surveyed the building have determined repairs will take months to complete.

Lowell students and staff will continue to be off from school Friday and Monday. Beginning Tuesday, they will be relocated to the former Central Rivers AEA conference center and special education buildings located at 3706 and 3712 Cedar Heights Drive in Cedar Falls.

Those who currently ride a bus will continue as normal from their usual stops. Any walkers or students who are dropped off will be bused to the temporary location from Lowell’s campus each morning and returned at the end of the school day to follow usual dismissal procedures.

The roof collapsed in a classroom when no students or teachers were present. School had been cancelled for the day due to the snowfall. Heavy snow on the roof was a factor in the roof collapse.

“Obviously this unexpected damage to Lowell is not ideal, but we appreciate Central Rivers AEA offering the unused space at their former facility to accommodate our students and staff through the end of this school year,” said Superintendent Jane Lindaman. “Keeping the students and staff together to continue their curriculum and instruction in one alternate site was our hope, and this location serves our needs well considering the nearly 400 displaced students and staff.”

District spokeswoman Tara Thomas said a lease for the facilities is still being finalized. “At this point, we’ll be working to determine what’s covered by insurance,” she noted. That goes for the roof repairs, as well, which are still being assessed.

“There are other parts of the building beyond that room and roof that need to be assessed and possibly repaired,” she said.

Once needed repairs are determined, the process to receive and award bids will be expedited so that work can begin as soon as possible. “This qualifies under the emergency repair process,” said Lindaman, which allows for the quicker timeline.

With three more days off than the rest of the school district, officials may need to make adjustments to how long Lowell students are in class this spring. “At this time we have not determined what the days would mean as far as make-up,” said Thomas.

Lindaman praised the cooperation of the AEA in getting Lowell students back to school.

“I am absolutely grateful to Chief Administrator Sam Miller and the Central Rivers staff for stepping up like they did,” she said. “We couldn’t ask for a better partner.

“They have offered all kinds of support. We feel like they’re standing with us and that’s great.”

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Courier

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