Rain arrives, atop snow: Schools close, delay classes

Eight Bend-La Pine, two Remond SD schools closed

School District Question and Answers

BEND, Ore. - Rain fell atop tall piles of snow and snowy roads around much of the High Desert Wednesday, prompting several school districts to delay classes, while 10 Bend-La Pine and Redmond schools remained closed for removal of heavy snow from their roofs.

Jefferson County 509-J planned a 2-hour delay but later instead called a closure for the day. Among schools on a two-hour delay: Sisters and COCC's Bend campus, as well as Sisters Christian Academy. Culver schools had buses on snow routes. In Crook County, Brothers and Paulina schools were closed, but others were on regular schedules.

Madras and La Pine NeighborImpact Head Start also were closed, as are Oregon Child Development Coalition classes in Madras and Culver.

All but eight Bend-La Pine and two Redmond schools were reopening Wednesday after several days of rooftop removal of heavy snowfall and safety inspections for any structural damage.

In Bend-La Pine, schools that won’t yet reopen due to work not yet complete include Elk Meadow, Lava Ridge, Pine Ridge, Ponderosa and W.E. Miller elementary schools and Pacific Crest, Pilot Butte and REALMS middle schools. In the Redmond district, the Tumalo and Terrebonne community schools won’t open because snow removal isn’t done.

NewsChannel 21 also received word that Gilchrist School closed at noon Tuesday and will remain closed Wednesday to continue snow removal efforts.

The REACH program in Redmond will be open Wednesday, as will the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bend that serve the eight still-closed schools, officials said.

Samara Learning Center in Bend will be open but on early release schedule at 1 p.m.

Please send any other notices of school or other program.event closures, delays, cancellations or openings to

Here’s the full announcement from Bend-La Pine Schools.

“What an outstanding community of parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors we have,” said Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson. “I know that having so many days off has been challenging for families and we appreciate your patience and understanding.”

Mikalson said that thanks to the determination of more than 150 snow removal team members, 12 structural engineers and dozens of staff who have worked behind the scenes or volunteered their time, Bend-La Pine Schools will reopen 30 schools, programs and facilities tomorrow, Wednesday, January 18.

The following schools will open Wednesday at their regular time.

Administration – Education Center

Amity Creek at Thompson School

Bear Creek Elementary

Buckingham Elementary

Ensworth Elementary

High Lakes Elementary

Highland at Kenwood School

Juniper Elementary

La Pine Elementary

R.E. Jewell Elementary

Rosland Elementary

Silver Rail Elementary

Three Rivers Elementary

Westside Village at Kingston School

Cascade Middle

High Desert Middle

La Pine Middle

Sky View Middle

Bend Senior High

La Pine High

Marshall High

Mountain View High

Summit High


Transition Co-op


Transportation, Bend

Transportation, La Pine

Warehouse – Distribution

Bend International School

For this week, students will be released on Wednesday per their school’s full day schedule, rather than the usual School Improvement Wednesday schedule.

“Giving students a full day tomorrow with their peers and school staff will begin to get them back into their normal school routine and will let our great teachers have a full day with their students,” said Mikalson.

Athletics and activities are being rescheduled with adjusted dates and times for all schools. 

“Engineers have completed structural evaluations of all 38 school and work sites for structural integrity,” said Mikalson. “They have now deemed all sites as structurally sound.”

Mikalson said engineers found one school, R.E. Jewell Elementary, to have had structural damage. Repairs are now complete and structural engineers and City of Bend staffers have deemed the school sound and ready to reopen to students tomorrow.

While all sites are now deemed structurally sound, not all sites are yet ready for occupancy. To be cleared, snow loads must be below design capacity and all doors must be cleared to allow compliance with State Fire Marshal code.

Mikalson said that of the eight schools yet to open, crews are continuing to move snow off of roofs and away from buildings, so that they can be ready for occupancy.

“These schools will be opened in the days to come, we will keep updating our community at about 5 p.m. each night with new information,” said Mikalson. “Again, thank you to everyone for their support and flexibility during these trying times. We are excited to get back to doing what we do best: teaching students.”

“I know that many Kenwood families and neighbors have been anxiously awaiting the results of the asbestos test that we sent to a local lab,” said Mikalson. “Results received today confirmed that there was no asbestos in the Kenwood gym and therefore is no asbestos present in the demolition rubble. I think this information will allow many to breathe a sigh of relief.”

For more information and a list of Frequently Asked Questions, please visit:

The district has started a Facebook thread to allow business owners a location to share suggestions for keeping students who are not going to school busy in the days to come. It is located at

And here’s the Tuesday evening update from the Redmond School District:

With huge thanks to the crews working diligently around the clock, a number of our schools have been cleared for occupancy. Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 18th, we will be running a regular school schedule for all schools except Tumalo and Terrebonne Community Schools.

Additionally, Redmond Early Learning Center (RELC) was on standby until crews complete the snow removal process; they announced Tuesday night the project was complete and RELC would be on normal schedule Wednesday.

Tumalo and Terrebonne will remain closed to staff and students until snow removal is complete. All other schools will operate on a regular schedule including athletics, programs and activities.  

Our crews will continue snow removal at Tumalo and crews will be transitioning to Terrebonne tonight. Both of these buildings require snow removal in areas which are very difficult to access. All other schools have had snow removed as advised by our engineers.

Some buildings required a large amount of snow and ice removal, while others only needed spot or drift removal in areas of concern due to the heavy water content (weight) of this snow. Ground crews have also removed the snow away from buildings to help prevent seepage issues as melt-off occurs.

The schools where snow has been removed as advised by our engineers and are ready for occupancy include:

·         M.A. Lynch Elementary

·         John Tuck Elementary

·         Vern Patrick Elementary

·         Tom McCall Elementary

·         Sage Elementary

·         Obsidian Middle School

·         Elton Gregory Middle School

·         Redmond High School

·         Ridgeview High School

·         Edwin Brown Education Center

We are pleased to share that our schools have not experienced any structural damage. Tomorrow, as contractors continue with snow removal efforts at our community schools, our RSD crew’s focus will turn toward snow melt and runoff management.

We anticipate that our schools will most likely experience some level of leakage as a result of ice dams, warm temperatures and snow runoff.  An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into the building.

"We have been ensured by our engineers that evidence of water leaks are not signs that a roof has been structurally compromised. We do anticipate some leaking and seepage throughout the coming days.

"Again, thank you for your continued patience and understanding. Your messages of support have been appreciated," Redmond's announcement concluded

Meanwhile, late Tuesday. Bend-La Pine schools posted an updated question-and-answer list about the snow removal and safety efforts:

Snow Removal and Snow Removal and Engineering Assessments:

Q: When did structural engineers look at my students’ schools?

A: Engineers have completed evaluations of all 38 school and work sites for structural stability. They have now deemed all sites structurally sound; this includes the most recent reviews of Bear Creek Elementary, Westside Village Magnet at Kingston School, and R.E. Jewell Elementary School.

Q: My children go to R.E. Jewell Elementary, what happened there?

A: As many of you have heard, Jewell sustained damage during the record-setting recent snow storm. Some support beams in the media center showed signs of damage. Jewell immediately contacted structural engineers, who examined the damage and designed a solution. The beams were replaced with steel beams and were reinforced with columns. Jewell now have eight of these columns in the media center and two in each of our Title rooms. The City of Bend and structural engineers have examined these supports and gave us the go-ahead to reopen school. The columns will keep the building safe, and this summer the district will complete additional work so that they can be removed. We are confident the roof is safe; in fact, Assistant Principal Jesse Rasmussen and Principal Scott Edmondson were on the roof last week clearing snow alongside our maintenance and custodial crews.

Q. You said all schools are structurally sound, so why are my students not going back on Wednesday?

A: While all sites are now deemed structurally sound, not all sites are yet ready for occupancy. To be cleared, snow loads must be below design capacity and all doors must be cleared to allow compliance with State Fire Marshal code. We will open schools after we receive word that they are cleared for occupancy.

Q: Why wasn’t snow removed from roofs earlier?

Our maintenance crews were clearing roofs based on priority of leaks and other structural issues/concerns as the storm was wearing on. Specifically, during the storm our crews were on roofs clearing ice dams, removing snow, and clearing drains at Kenwood’s (Highland) library, La Pine High School, Pilot Butte Middle School’s gym, Kingston School (Westside Village), Three Rivers School, Mountain View High School, Thompson School (Amity Creek), Sky View Middle School, Bend Senior High School, Marshall High School and Summit High School.

Our crews do a lot that goes unnoticed. We have had a record amount of snow fall over the last month and our maintenance and custodial teams have been working overtime to keep up with it all, as they worked to clear more than 2 million square feet of roof. We are also taking a really good look at all aspects of this situation and considering possible changes to our procedures and preparedness.

Q: How are icicles being removed from schools?

A: We will consider inside recess when classes resume if we need to allow custodial crews and other staff additional time to continue removing snow and icicles.

Q: When will I know when I am going back to school?

A: We are opening many schools on Wednesday, January 18 and anticipate opening schools daily for the rest of the week. We will announce new openings each night around 5 p.m.

Q: Why is Pacific Crest Middle School closed, when I understand it was being used for emergency management?

A: Due to melting snow and wind patterns that occurred Tuesday afternoon, some snow has accumulated in new areas on the roof and around the building that needs to be removed before occupancy.

School schedule/calendar information:

Q: My student is among those going back to school on Wednesday, January 18. We understand that he/she will have a full day, instead of a School Improvement Wednesday early release day. Are you planning on doing this again next week?

A: No. Extending Wednesdays could be on the table as we look at how we might recover some instructional time lost as a result of these closures.

Q: Should we expect more days to be added to the school calendar?

A: We do not intend to add more school days to the calendar (beyond the previously-announced four days, June 18-22). Superintendent Shay Mikalson plans to petition the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for a waiver of instructional time standards. He hopes that the state will look favorably upon our request for flexibility in our calendar, given our unprecedented situation.

Q: To add instruction time, why didn’t Bend-La Pine Schools add time to School Improvement Wednesdays (rather than adding four days to the end of the school year)?

A: Prior to the loss of our fifth school day, that option was being seriously considered. With the loss of our fifth day occurring so early in the winter (and now the loss of our sixth, seventh and eighth days), all inside a single semester, we determined that we needed to add full days to balance the learning time between semesters. Finally, regularly scheduled, job-embedded time for collaborative work and professional learning is the heart of the excellent instruction we expect in Bend-La Pine Schools.

That said, we now believe we may need to consider adding hours to the School Improvement Wednesday schedule this school year. We are continuing to look at this as a possible option as we work with the state.

Q: How does the decision to add days back to the school year affect the district’s budget?

A: The state does not provide us with any additional money when we add days to the calendar.

Q: I am a high school senior, will I need to go back to school after I graduate?

A: At this time, we do not anticipate that you will be going back to class after walking across the stage and receiving your diploma.

Q: What opportunities are available in the community if my child does not have school tomorrow?

A: Check out this Facebook post for opportunities in the community:

Kenwood-specific information:

Q: We are concerned with the possibility of asbestos in the debris of the gym at Highland. Is there any?

A: We just received news from Paulson Environmental Center, which confirmed that there was no asbestos present in the debris from the gym on our property. We will continue to keep students (and community members) away from the site and have installed safety fencing around the area.

Q: Why did you tear down Kenwood’s gym?

A: Emergency responders called crews in to take down the Kenwood gym as a safety measure. They said that leaving the gym standing and partially collapsed was not an option for safety reasons. Department of Environmental Quality was also on site and supported the emergency demolition.

Q: My student attends Highland Magnet at Kenwood School. Will there be music and PE and if so, where will these classes take place?

A: Yes, students will continue to have music and PE. A school team began meeting Monday to plan how and where these programs will be offered. They will share more details with families as these plans are developed.

Q: Can I have some bricks/chairs/doors from Kenwood School?

A: We have had similar requests from staff and community members. The site is closed and law enforcement is patrolling it. An investigation is ongoing (for insurance purposes). At this time, we have not determined next steps. If anything changes, we will let you all know via email, our website and social media.

Q: When will the gym be rebuilt?

A: It is too soon to know when the gym will be rebuilt and the insurance company will likely continue its investigation for another month.

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