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O'Connor: 'Extraordinary' Measures Taken To Remove Snow From School Roofs, Parking Lots

Feb 23, 2015 01:26PM ● By Bill Gilman

Dozens of workers, heavy equipment and even a few convicts have been used to clear off the roofs and parking lots of Tewksbury School District buildings to prepare for the re-opening of school today after February vacation.

In an email sent to parents, Superintendent of Schools Dr. John O'Connor outlined what he described as "extraordinary lengths" gone to by the district to prepare the schools an ensure safety.

According to O'Connor,  the school department facilities manager met with Building Inspector Ed Johnson before the start of vacation to go over the plan for clearing several feet of accumulated snow off the roofs of the buildings. Of particular concern were the roofs of the town's four older elementary schools

Part of the plan involved using inmates from the Middlesex House of Correction. However, due to high demand, the Sheriff's Department was only able to provide Tewksbury with three inmates, as opposed to the 12 that had been hoped for.

Next, the district contacted private contractors and brought in dozens of workers to augment the school department staff.

"We contacted our on-call roofing company and they were able to deploy 10 shovelers on Tuesday, and by Wednesday afternoon an additional 40 shovelers were hired through a second contractor," wrote O'Connor. "On Thursday, and continuing throughout the weekend, we had up to 65 individuals at our various schools clearing snow from the elementary school roofs."

But the roofs were just part of the challenge facing school officials. According to O'Connor, huge piles of snow had accumulated in front of the doors and windows of schools due to the heavy snowfall and drifting caused by high winds.

The district rented three "bobcat-like loaders" to remove the snow, as well as an excavator to remove snow from the rear of the Dewing School. The equipment was also used to "reclaim" as many parking spaces as possible at the schools. According to O'Connor, many spaces were restored at Tewksbury High and less at the other schools.

O'Connor had special praise for the school department staff, both those in the office and those engaged in the hands-on snow removal effort.

"Our maintenance and facilities staff devoted countless hours to this necessary task.  I cannot begin to tell you how impressed I am by their dedication to their schools and the extraordinary effort displayed by our women and men who work to ensure our schools are clean and safe," wrote O'Connor. "Our Business Office responded to the crisis in methodical fashion and deployed resources appropriately and in a timely manner."


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