Engineer sent to save Clyde’s sinking school

School declared safe, but some decide to keep children home anyway.



IQALUIT— Some students at the elementary school in Clyde River have been pulled out of classes by parents worried for the safety of their children — their place of study is sinking into the ground.

“Over the weekend the school further deteriorated,” said Charlie Banfield, the principal of Quluaq school.

Last week the elementary section of the combined elementary and high school was closed because the building started to sink into the ground.

A group of inspectors from the Nunavut government were sent to the community last week to look at the problem and figure out if the school is still safe. Banfield said he and other people in Clyde River were concerned that the sinking could bend pipes, stretch wires and pose a fire hazard.

The inspectors gave the school a green light to re-open for classes on Monday, but over the weekend, the school sank further, prompting the kindergarten teacher to move her class out of its normal room and into the home economics room in the high school portion of the building.

“I’d say it’s gone down at least a foot,” Banfield said Monday. The sinking had caused some cracking in the walls and floors of the school, he said and some parents had pulled their children from classes.

On Wednesday, Banfield said the school had sunk even more. Classes were continuing and Banfield said that a structural engineer was to arrive Thursday to determine what should be done to shore up the school.

“That portion of the school is sitting on a concrete pad,” he said. He explained that one theory being tossed about in Clyde about the sinking was that heat from the school’s furnace was going through the floor and melting the permafrost below.

Another idea, voiced by the Director of the Baffin Divisional Education Council Cathy MacGregor, is that skirting placed around the bottom of the newer part of the school (which sits on piles) was trapping heat under the school and that this is melting the permafrost beneath the school.

“The plan is and has been to tear that wing down and build a new one next fall,” said MacGregor. She said plans are still being made to order materials on the sealift and begin construction in the fall. She said two new sections are planned.

She could not say how much it would cost to affect repairs to the building until it had been looked at by the engineer.

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