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High School Fire Updates

As many of you know, on the morning of Saturday, April 28, there was a fire at Upper Perkiomen High School. Please see below for the updates that have been distributed to the Upper Perk community. We will continue to keep this page updated as new information becomes available. You can also stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Email sent to parents/guardians of high school students and UPSD staff on the afternoon of Friday, May 4:

Dear Upper Perk community -

As we wrap up what has been a challenging week for our district, I wanted to provide a brief update on the high school in the wake of Saturday’s fire.

At this point, most of the building has been reopened, with the exception of the area immediately affected by the fire. The auditorium and audion are in the final stages of cleaning, and we anticipate that they will be released for our use early next week, pending air quality testing. While the HVAC systems are not yet fully functioning, we will continue to work on restoring them over the weekend, and hope to have them up and running next week.

Perhaps, most importantly, the state has granted us an emergency waiver for the missed school days, and we will not need to make them up. Therefore, the end-of-year schedule and the date of graduation remain unchanged.

Thanks for your support over the past week. Have a great weekend.

Sincerely,
Dr. Alexis McGloin
Superintendent of Schools

Email sent to UPSD community on the evening of Tuesday, May 1:

Dear Upper Perk community -

As a reminder, classes will resume at the high school tomorrow on a two-hour delay schedule. The delay is only for the high school, and the bus schedule for our high school students will be adjusted. All other buildings will run on a regular schedule.

We are happy to report that the majority of the building will be open on Wednesday, with the exception of the area immediately affected by the fire and some of our larger spaces, such as the auditorium. We will not, however, be able to operate our HVAC systems for the remainder of the week, so high school students should dress accordingly.

In addition to the cleaning that has been underway, we completed air quality testing this evening and I am confident that our students and staff have a safe, clean environment to return to, which was my top priority.

Please remember that the building will close at 4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday for additional cleaning, and no students or staff will be permitted in the facility after hours.

Sincerely,
Dr. Alexis McGloin
Superintendent of Schools

Email sent to UPSD community on the afternoon of Monday, April 30:

Dear Upper Perk community,

Now that we have had more time to assess the damage caused by Saturday morning’s fire, I wanted to take a moment to update you on the status of the building, and our plan moving forward.

Saturday’s fire started in the tech ed classroom, and authorities continue to investigate the circumstances that led to the fire. Although the fire itself was contained to the area in which it began, a large amount of the building was affected by the resulting smoke and soot. As you can probably imagine, the areas closest to the fire were most affected.

We are working with fire restoration company BELFOR to prepare much of the building for the return of students and staff. Our primary concern is ensuring that students and staff have a safe, clean environment in which to resume instruction. BELFOUR is in the midst of an intensive 48-hour clean of the building, and as such, staff access is limited to essential personnel at this time.

As we require more time to prepare the building for students and staff to return, there will be no school for the high school on Tuesday, May 1. As with today, since we cannot allow a large number of buses on school grounds, the district will not be providing transportation to the Western Center. Students who can arrange their own transportation to the Western Center are welcome to attend their classes there, but otherwise Upper Perk students will be excused from their Western Center classes.

Currently, our plan is to reopen the high school for students and staff on Wednesday on a two-hour delay schedule. While we plan to have enough of the building reopened to resume classes, please understand that not all of the building will be open. Some teachers in rooms more affected than others may need to teach in an alternative location. The administration is working on a schedule to accommodate classes displaced by the fire and restoration efforts. As soon as classrooms are cleaned and deemed ready for use, teachers will be allowed to resume classes in their usual locations. The area immediately affected by the fire will obviously be closed for the foreseeable future.

At minimum, for the remainder of this week (Wednesday-Friday), the high school will close at 4 p.m. so that cleaning and restoration can resume overnight. While the building is closed, no staff or students will be allowed in the facility.

In regards to events that were scheduled at the high school this week, all Arts Week activities—including the talent show, concerts and the Art Show—remain canceled. We hope that they may be rescheduled at a later date, but that is not the priority at this time. Athletic events will continue as planned, and Mr. Kurzweg is working with coaches to ensure that athletes have the equipment they need to compete.

We know there are questions in regards to whether these missed days will need to be made up. It has already been a challenging year for our calendar with a high number of weather-related cancellations. While I don’t have an answer for you at this time as to whether we will need to make these days up and when, please know that we are looking into that, and will have answers for you as soon as we are able.

Again, I’d like to thank the first responders whose quick actions and dedication to keeping our community safe were invaluable this weekend. They, and our staff, have worked and will continue to work hard to make sure we are back to normal operations as soon as possible. We will continue to update you through Skyward, our social media accounts and our website as new information becomes available.

I know that the strength of the Upper Perk community will help us get on our feet as soon as possible, and I thank you for your patience during this challenging time for our district.

Sincerely,
Dr. Alexis McGloin
Superintendent of Schools

Email sent to parents/guardians of students who attend the Western Center on the afternoon of Sunday, April 29:

Parents and Guardians of Western Center Students,

Due to the complexities of the fire at Upper Perkiomen High School, the school district cannot allow students and buses on school grounds. With that being said, Western Center students are permitted to attend Western with their own transportation tomorrow, 4/30/18. Additionally, the Western Center is granting our students permission to drive and park on Western school grounds. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding during this difficult
time.

Sincerely,
Rob Carpenter, Ed.D.
Principal
UPHS

Social media post on the afternoon of Sunday, April 29:

As a follow-up to yesterday's email, at this time ALL Arts Week events, scheduled for 4/30-5/4, are canceled due to damage to the high school from Saturday's fire. Unfortunately, as of now, the district does not have a facility to accommodate these events. Arts Week is a highlight of every school year, and we applaud the students and staff who have worked so hard, with the goal of showcasing their talents this week. If the district is able to reschedule Arts Week events at a later date, we will let our community know. Thank you for your patience as we prioritize reopening our high school for student instruction.

Email sent to UPSD community on the afternoon of Saturday, April 28:

Parents and Guardians,

As many of you are aware, there was a fire at Upper Perkiomen High School this morning. It started in the tech education classroom and was contained to that area. At this time, the cause of the fire is unknown and authorities continue to investigate how it started.

Due to the extent of the damage, high school students will not have school on Monday. All other schools will be in session. Additionally, arts week event will be canceled.

While this is certainly is a devastating blow to the Upper Perk community, we are very fortunate that the fire did not occur on a school day.

I would like to thank the first responders for their quick action and dedication to keeping our community safe. I truly appreciate their commitment.

The district will continue to update you as details become available.

Alexis McGloin
Superintendent of Schools