Godfrey-Lee school year plan hinges on inspection

Kent County

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Portions of the Lee Middle & High School in Wyoming continue to fall.

About two weeks after part of the roof gave way above the 1920s era section of the building, the outside wall in the same area came down about 9 p.m. Sunday.

“We are going through and inspecting and investigating every other part of the building that has similar era construction. That starts today,” Godfrey-Lee Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Polston said Monday.

Along with the question of why the wall apparently separated from the roof and caused the original collapse, district officials are pondering what to do when the school bells ring next fall.

About 950 students attend the school. Nearly half, about 460, attend classes in the high school section, which was partially damaged by the collapse.

“We won’t know anything about a timetable for opening school in the fall, in terms of the rest of the building, until we get that inspection complete,” Polston told 24 Hour News 8.

He said it is too early to create a contingency plan for where students will attend class in the fall, saying he’s waiting until the investigation by a structural engineer and architect is complete.

Lee Middle and High School partial roof collapse 4 060619_1559836338438.JPG.jpg
Drone footage shows where part of the roof at Lee Middle & High School collapsed. (June 6, 2019)

Last week, crews began taking the wall apart piece by piece, trying to figure out what caused it to separate from the roof. But that work caused other problems.

“Late Friday afternoon, our crews determined it was unstable and pulled crews off because they didn’t want anyone getting injured,” Polston said.

Crews were expected to use heavy equipment to begin taking the rest of the wall down Monday. Instead, they were cleaning up a collapse zone.

Lee Middle & High School collapse
Part of the outside wall at Lee Middle & High School collapsed Sunday, about two weeks after a partial roof collapse. (June 23, 2019)

While it’s too early to determine what to do about the new school year, now just a few months away, school officials said they won’t take any chances.

“Safety is our concern,” Polston said. “And we will not open school until we have documentation that this building is safe for all who enter.”

He said that once the district has those reports, it will share them publicly and host a meeting for the community to answer questions and share information.

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