There is no doubt the York County School Division has been through the ringer this year.
After an electrical fire broke out in the equipment room around 3:45 p.m. on Feb. 3, the Grafton Complex, home to both Grafton middle school and high school, was closed indefinitely.
It happened after school dismissal, and everyone remaining in the building was evacuated safely.
Smoke diffused throughout the complex at different rates, but the middle school side of the complex endured significant smoke damage.
The electrical damage went through the neutral lines in the system. The fire alarm system was not affected. The sprinkler system did go off in the equipment room where the fire was contained, officials said.
Then the coronavirus outbreak happened, another crisis for the school division to handle.
However, things are finally starting to look up for the school division, as the project to finish repairs on the Grafton Complex is near completion.
James Carroll, the division’s chief operations officer, said the completion date for the repairs is set for Aug. 21, but they are hoping to finish repairs even sooner.
“We should be able to have staff in the building at that point. Within the whole building, we will be able to have people in the high school side even earlier,” Carroll said.
There were several stages in fixing up the building. The complex was half-way through a renovation for the HVAC system when the fire broke out. Not only did the division have to worry about restoring the electricity to the entire complex and fixing the smoke damage, but they also had to figure out how to finish the air conditioning project.
Even though the complex is only 24 years old, there is no connection between the age of the building and the occurrence of the fire, said division spokeswoman Katherine Goff.
The entire cost of the repairs, Carroll said, is in the millions.
He didn’t elaborate.
The entire cost of the repair is covered by insurance, Carroll said. The county pledged additional money so the division did not have issues with cash flow to ensure there was no delay in repairing the complex.
The rest of the fall semester has yet to be determined after the first weeks of virtual learning are completed, but Goff and Carroll said when students return to the facility, the middle schoolers will have a new and improved air conditioning system to enjoy.
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