Letter from Principal West - February 13, 2017
Dear TEC Parents and Students,
I just wanted to send out an update on the situation that caused us to dismiss school at noon today. I also want to commend ALL of our students for the way that they conducted themselves during both the evacuation of the building and the reorganization once they all re-entered the Middle School side of the building. It’s great to know that in situations of actual emergency that our students and staff all know what to do, where to go, and how to act. Here is a summary of events that led up to the decision to dismiss school early today:
- At about 10:20 we lost power to our entire campus, the backup generator kicked in immediately and was able to restore lighting to most rooms and we were still able to operate smaller electrical devices like classroom projectors and most of our PC’s. However, we did not have any lighting in office areas, restrooms, nor did we have enough power to operate larger electrical devices like the heating/cooling devices in our cafeteria. Some of our computer servers were down, and some of our computers (mainly the Mac’s) were not able to operate. At that point we went into “wait and see” mode as we waited for Xcel Energy to restore power.
- At about 10:45 we began to notice a burning type of odor in the High School side of the building. It smelled like burnt rubber or an electrical fire if you have ever experienced one of those before. At this point we immediately evacuated the building and had Denver Fire Department respond to the building.
- At about 11:00 it was determined that the burning smell, as well as some smoke, were coming from an HVAC motor in an electrical access room located off of one of our Language Arts classrooms on the High School side of the building. This is the same motor that apparently failed and caused a similar type of evacuation last spring. While the EHS south hallway was filled with a smoky haze, it was determined that the fumes were not hazardous, but boy did that side of the building smell! The entire north side of the building was fine, there were no signs of smoke or burning odors, so once we got the all clear from the fire department we determined that we would bring all students back into the building on the Middle School side.
- While all of this was going on, we were in communications with our Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, or Transportation office, and our Facilities staff to determine next steps. At that time, Xcel Energy was estimating that the earliest that power would be restored to the building was 1:45pm. Given the fact that we had no power to our serving lines in the kitchen (right before lunch time), we had no lights in any of the bathrooms, and that there was a significant odor on the high school side of the building that would make it unbearable to hold classes, we decided at that time to release the students early from school.
- At about 11:25 we were given the all clear by DFD and had our EMS/ELA students return to their classrooms and had the EHS students all report to the Middle School gymnasium.
- At about 11:40 our communications office sent out a phone/email/text blast notifying parents of the early dismissal.
- At 11:55 all of our busses were here and ready to run their routes to take kids home, parents were here to pick up their kids, and the EHS kids were ready to drive home, so all students were dismissed.
Like I said earlier, I do not take the responsibility of sending kids home early lightly. This was really the only thing to do in this situation to best make sure that our kids were safe. As for the motor that caused this mess, it is still too hot to touch, but crews will be here overnight completely removing it and installing a new one. Our HVAC system will be up and running and fully operational in time to safely hold classes tomorrow. All afterschool activities for today are on as scheduled, the air in the fieldhouse is just fine. In fact as I type this, the odor in the main hallway is much less, but still noticeable.
Thank you all again so much for your understanding and flexibility in regards to this situation. Let’s hope that replacing this motor will resolve this problem and we won’t have to go through this again.
I hope you all have a great afternoon!
Ryan West, Principal
EHS, EMS, ELA