It's a story that's becoming more common in the Northland this winter; another public building has been closed due to snow load on the roof. This time it's the school building in Solon Springs.

The school building has been closed all week due to "sagging of the trusses".  According to details shared in the article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], the affected area of concern only covers "a little over 2% of the total school roof surface", but it was enough to send students home.

Part of the issue is the thaw, melt, and re-freeze cycle we've experienced this winter - in addition to the near-record snow totals. The article in the Telegram details what has occured:

"Snow and ice on the pitched roof of the Sandy Slade Gymnasium started sliding down, putting additional pressure on a section of the lower roof. The 1,800 square foot area affected is located above the mail hallway outside of the school office extending into the commons hallway area."

The problem was first noticed while students were out of the building on Spring Break.  That's when school maintenance workers noticed that the trusses were sagging. And while they're designed to take some of that weight, there is a potential for additional problems as the workers noticed other concerns associated with the heavy snow load.

That's when the decision to close the building occured.

To alleviate the snow weight, the district hired a contractor to remove the snow using cranes, scoops, and skid-steers. Once that operation is finished, an engineer will inspect the roof, trusses, and the mechanics of the building. What they find will dictate will determine the next courses of action - if needed. An all-clear would need to be given before students are allowed back to an in-person classroom situation.

For the time being, students were expected to transition into a temporary virtual format.


The School District of Solon Springs has determined that they will reopen the building to classes on Monday, March 27.  While the full letter to parents and families is available on their Facebook page, Frank Helquist shared that the engineer "inspected the affected areas, looked at other parts of the building, and determined that the affected area was now safe for adults and student sto be in those affected areas".

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