HANCOCK– Not one person was injured in what could have been a tragic occurrence, had it taken place just a few hours later.

“We were contacted this morning by our regular maintenance worker that we have in the building, who was doing his routine walk through checking everything. He noticed that there was a problem in one of the rooms,” says Kipp Beaudoin, superintendent for Hancock Schools.

Prior to the start of each school day, a custodian makes the rounds at Barkell Elementary ensuring that everything indicates a safe school day. This morning, that was not the case.

“He discovered that there was a failure on the roof. On the back side there’s a drift area off of the roof and with the rain last night there must have been a failure in the structure and there was a cave in. What we’re trying to do right now is ascertain building usage, what type of damage is done and then what do we need to do in order to make the building usable. If it is, and if it’s not, we need to come up with a plan to house the students and continue education.”

Elementary students were on their way to class when the cave in was discovered and redirected to the high school to await parental pick up.

“We already had buses on the road, so we did not want to cancel and send students home, maybe to a vacant household. We brought them in, made announcements to the community, notified them to pick up students at the high school, and then by doing that, we would be able to at least assist parents as much as we could in that transition piece.”

Students in all grades were released at 10:00 am, and have been given tomorrow off as well, allowing the district and engineers to assess the situation and develop a repair plan.

“We just need that type of information, but we want to make sure that the building is perfectly safe through all that happens.”

As the building remained vacant today, aside from administrative personal, clean up crews cleared the remaining snow, and cleared a service drive through nearly 24 inches of snow, allowing access for the repair crews.

“I just want to extend to public works. As soon as they became aware, the fire department and police department¬† contacted us, senate representative to help assist and if there’s anything that they could do for us they certainly have offered. So we’re very very appreciative.”

Classes are expected to resume on Monday.

“We’re very very thankful that it occurred when nobody was here, and again we are very appreciative of the kindness of the community.”