All but one of the Baltimore schools where the heat failed and pipes burst last week have been repaired to the point where they can open tomorrow, school officials said.
They made the announcement even as they warned that persistent cold weather has continued to create additional problems, including new leaks that appeared while workers were fixing previous ones.
The media was given a dramatic illustration of the phenomenon on a tour through Frederick Douglass High School, led by Santelises and Mayor Catherine Pugh.
All the leaks at the West Baltimore school had been repaired until – just hours before the tour – another pipe burst and the contractors had to be called back in.
Droplets of water were falling from the rupture in a ceiling heating unit into a couple of plastic trash cans positioned below.
A television cameraman held his microphone up to the leak to capture audio of the dripping.
“It’s really like whack-a-mole at this point,” said Santelises, explaining that, as repairs were being made on the original 60 problem facilities, other schools were developing problems.
Failing heat, flooding, power failures and other issues were reported in 85 schools since Tuesday, she said.
Santelises said the three facilities where problems persisted into Sunday were Frederick Douglass, Calverton Elementary/Middle School at 1100 Whitmore Avenue and the Professional Development Center (PDC) building at 2500 East Northern Parkway.
(Also located at the PDC are the Friendship Academy of Technology and Engineering, a middle school and high school, and the N.A.C.A. Freedom and Democracy II Academy, a middle school.)
Later in the day, the school district announced that only Calverton would be closed for students Monday morning.
“Please note that this may change again as temperatures drop overnight,” the statement said, promising additional all-day closures would be announced by 6 a.m.
“Target” is 68°F
Mayor Pugh, who noted that she called on private contractors including Martin Knott to provide emergency help, also addressed reporters.
She said she hoped to get federal funds to cover the costs of emergency repairs at the schools, as well as to fix nearly 100 water main breaks reported across the city.
“We know that the federal government is focused on infrastructure,” she said. “This is an infrastructure problem. While we get monies from the state and the city kicks in money, this is an infrastructure problem.”
Since Tuesday, failing heat, flooding, power failures and other issues were reported in 85 schools.
Santelises, earlier in the day, released a statement that began “we hear your anger about last week’s events and we take your concerns seriously.”
“So many of our aging buildings are in bad shape,” she wrote, “but we in the district leadership will do better in responding when conditions in schools simply become unacceptable.”
Speaking with reporters, she said new policies and procedures were being developed for when to close schools and how to inform parents.
Asked what standards are applied currently for when a school may be re-opened, she said the “target” temperature “is always 68°.”
“But once you get to 60°, that should be flagged,” she added. “Anything under 60° should not be where young people are.”