Saturday, September 24, 2011


First a power outage last week, then an evacuation, prompts Superintendent of Schools Brian Osborne to send a letter home Friday:

September 23, 2011
Dear Columbia High School Community:
Earlier today you received a message advising you about a temporary evacuation at Columbia High 
School.  I want to share an update regarding the electrical situation in the B-wing of Columbia.  
We experienced a power outage at Columbia High School last week. The cause was damage to 
underground supply wires. We were able to restore power to most of the building but are still working 
towards a solution to restore electrical power supply to the B-wing of the high school. Until repairs are 
complete, a generator has been located in the central office parking lot to power the B-wing.
This morning a power surge in the B-wing caused us to evacuate the building at 7:10 am.  The 
Maplewood Fire Department investigated the area, decided to close B-wing only, and confirmed that it 
was safe for students to occupy the rest of the building while electricians worked on the situation.  
Classes that would normally meet in the B-wing were relocated to other areas of the building. We 
anticipate having B-wing reopened before Monday.  However, a schedule for relocating classes on 
Monday, should this be necessary, is being developed so that the class schedule will not be interrupted. 
The generator that caused the power surge is being replaced this afternoon.  We will continue to use 
generator power while the underground supply wires are being replaced.  Engineering plans, approvals, 
and acquisition of supplies, to correct the electric supply situation, are all in motion.  We are hopeful
that the majority of the work can be done next Thursday and Friday while schools are closed.
Some rumors were circulating that B-wing was closed due to carbon monoxide in the building.  I want to 
assure you that this is not true.  The safety of our students and staff is our first priority.  Since the first 
moment that the need to run power from a generator became evident, we have been working closely 
with the Maplewood Fire Department, the Maplewood Police Department and the Maplewood Health 
Department to assure everyone’s safety.  Carbon monoxide alarms are in rooms nearest the generator.  
Inspections of rooms have been taking place regularly both by district staff and Essex County Health 
Department.  Carbon monoxide has never been an issue at the building. 
At approximately 2:45 pm this afternoon, a fire alarm was pulled in C-wing.  This had no relation to the 
situation in B-wing or to the generator.  Students returned promptly to the building and were dismissed 
at the regular time.  
We apologize for any inconvenience to students and staff and appreciate your cooperation and patience 
as we work to resolve the situation at Columbia High School.
Brian Osborn

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