Anchorage School District closes 5 school libraries due to snow load

Icicles at the corner of a school.
Rainproof Roofing are continuing to remove snow and ice off of the library roof of Klatt Elementary School. Rainproof Roofing Foreman Donavan Danner said that he and his crew arrived at the school early Tuesday morning, and expect to finish by the end of day. (Alaska Public Media/Mizelle Mayo)

The Anchorage School District has closed five elementary school libraries to evaluate potentially dangerous snow buildup on top of schools.

In an email sent to parents Monday night, the district said that libraries at two Anchorage elementary schools — Klatt and Spring Hill — were closed after the maintenance department identified ceiling damage. 

The district also decided “out of an abundance of caution” to proactively close the libraries of Bear Valley Elementary, Fire Lake Elementary, and Ravenwood Elementary, which share the same building design with Klatt and Spring Hill. 

“There is no risk of catastrophic collapse,” the email said. “There is a risk of ceiling pieces coming down. There is no indication that ceilings in these buildings are damaged outside of the libraries.”

Anchorage Fire Department Assistant Chief Alex Boyd said that three buildings and a carport have collapsed in Anchorage over the last month. One person died in a South Anchorage CrossFit gym roof collapse on Feb. 17 and two buildings suffered partial collapses over the weekend, but no other major injuries have been reported from the structural failures.

Prior to the fatal roof failure in Anchorage, the Palmer Public Library suffered a partial roof collapse on Feb. 15. The city is currently examining alternative sites to host library programs and store books, according to Palmer City Manager John Moosey.

Engineers assessed the snow load on the roofs of Anchorage schools after the first major snowfall in December, and began a second assessment recently. The district says all five school libraries will be closed until engineers can complete an assessment on the ceilings.

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