BREAKING NEWS: School released early due to main water line break

Around 12:10 p.m. today, the administration made an announcement over the Public Address system informing students and staff that school would have an early release at 12:20 p.m. due to a break in the main water line. 

Raphael Semeria

The pipe break was a result of the parking lot construction project. While redirecting an irrigation line, workers accidentally struck the old water pipes. District Facilities Construction Director Eric Holm was on site surveying the efforts to fix the pipe break. “They were boring through this area, which is typically a less destructive method when you do water utility lines,” Holm said. “They checked the area with a ground penetrating radar, but it seems that the concrete pipe was so old that it could not be picked up by [the radar].”

According to Assistant Principal Leonel Argumedo, the admin discovered water bubbling out of the ground in the morning. Because it came from the main line, they had to shut down the water supply to the rest of the school. “There is no water anywhere,” he said. “The restrooms are inaccessible.”

In addition to the logistics of keeping 2,000 students on campus without bathrooms, the administrators were concerned about student safety. Both factored into the decision to end school early for the day. “God forbid if there was a fire,” Argumedo said. “We would have nothing to put it out.”

Construction workers on site are already working to replace the broken portion of the main line. “Right now they’re digging down to expose the line,” Holm said. “They’ve got a guy who’s already gone out to the store to buy the replacement pipes. We hope to have it finished by today.”

Jessica Wang

Even if the pipe is not fixed, administrators are optimistic of reopening the campus for class tomorrow with alternatives. Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Don Austin was on scene as construction workers peered into the ground. “We’re still going to be open tomorrow,” he said. “We’re going to bring portable restrooms, but obviously we don’t have that right now.”

Posts will be sent out via Schoology to students and staff about class and on-site sports, which will also be cancelled today.