Parents and students arrived at Highland Magnet elementary school in Bend, Ore., Thursday morning to find police tape, a flurry of emergency crews and a gym without a roof.
No one was inside the gym when the entire roof caved in, and the rest of the school was quickly evacuated, Portland ABC affiliate KATU reports. Bend firefighters posted photos on Facebook and termed the collapse “catastrophic.”
The Bend-La Pine School District closed all of its schools until Monday, and announced the gym building will be demolished. Structural engineers in Bend and other districts on the east side of Oregon’s Cascade mountains evaluated the snow load on school roofs, the Bend Bulletin newspaper reports. At least one school in the Redmond District closed as a precaution.
A Highland Magnet teacher told the newspaper that the collapse was likely discovered by the people who run a Bend Park and Recreation District before-school program held in the gym.
He and many others expressed gratitude that the roof gave way before anyone was inside. Many P.E. activities are held in the gym this time of year, the teacher said, and the school’s music room is in the gym’s basement.
Some parents were already en route to school when the district sent out notifications about 8 a.m., and they found a surreal sight when they arrived to drop off their kids, the Bulletin reports. Some stood tearfully and watched the commotion from across the street. Children recorded the activity with smartphone cameras.
The Bend district had previously announced it would extend its school year because it had canceled a record five days of school due to severe weather, Portland Fox affiliate KPTV reported.