Briarcliff Elementary closed due to safety concerns; gym will be closed the rest of the year

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | The Briarcliff School in Shoreham will be closed this week, since it was deemed unsafe.
SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | The Briarcliff School in Shoreham will be closed this week, since it was deemed unsafe.

Classes at Briarcliff Elementary School in the Shoreham-Wading River School District have been temporarily suspended after a ceiling tile fell in the school’s gymnasium last week district officials said this week.

Students will be attending classes at other schools within the district beginning Tuesday until Friday, according to superintendent Harriet Copel. Students were off Monday and the school will likely reopen next week.

“Administration and a team of architects and structural engineers are working together to ensure that Briarcliff students, faculty and staff can safely return to Briarcliff on Monday March 7th,” the school district states on its website.

In the meantime Briarcliff students, all kindergartners and first-graders, have be sent to Miller Avenue School and Wading River Elementary School since Tuesday. Bus routes and pickup times will remain the same. Teachers met Monday to plan for instruction this week.

A complete list of where Briarcliff students will be attending classes during the week is available on the school district’s website.

Safety concerns were initially raised when a custodian noticed a ceiling tile fall in the school’s multi-purpose room, which also serves as the gym, last week when school was not in session. Upon further inspection he noticed the ceiling was bowed in that section of the building, which was built in the 1950’s. Elizabeth Sobel, a spokesperson for the district, said gym classes will likely be held outside for the remainder of the year weather permitted.

The ceiling has since been secured with wood pilings, though construction will be necessary to permanently address the situation. Construction will not begin until after the school year and the room will not reopen until the start of the 2011-12 school year, according to Ms. Sobel.

The repairs will be paid for by the school’s insurance company at no additional costs to taxpayers.

An informational session on the building was attended by 200 parents Sunday.

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