Schools Under Construction Rush to Prepare for Students

Schools Under Construction Rush to Prepare for Students

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Sandra Yi ReportingIt's back to school for many kids in Utah next week. So the question is, will schools under construction be ready for them? Work is being done on nine elementary schools in the Salt Lake district, but some may not 'look' safe when kids arrive for their first day.

Nibley Park is a brand new elementary school. There's still work going on inside but it will be ready. The district says so will eight other elementary schools, even though it may not look like that now.

It's 'back to school' - for second grade teacher Leigh Jennings. She has only four more days to get her classroom in shape. This fall elementary school staff throughout the district had more than one million pounds of school supplies and furniture to unpack.

Leigh Jennings, Teacher: "When we came in on Monday, I had boxes way up over our head and furniture stacked everywhere. It’s been chaotic around here (laughs).”

More chaotic than usual. As Jennings works away so do construction crews down the hall.

Leigh Jennings: "We're trying to get a building ready for school in one week."

Uintah is one of nine elementary schools in the Salt Lake City School District under construction. Three are brand new schools, six are retrofit projects.

Jason Olsen, Salt Lake City School District: “And what that means, we’ll take the existing building and tear into the foundations, the roofs and the walls, and strengthen them so in the event of an earthquake, they will be safer.”

Construction began in June and has been fast paced. Most schools will be completely done come Tuesday, but three, including Uintah, will see a second phase as additions are made to the buildings.

Jason Olsen, Salt Lake City School District: "What the parents may see, we may have a couple of tile floor projects that aren't quite done. We may have a few ceiling tiles out of place but there will not be anything dangerous to students."

For example, the wires hanging from the ceiling will be gone. And areas under construction, like the auditorium, will be closed off to students.

There's still a lot of work to be done but teachers like Leigh Jennings welcome the changes.

Leigh Jennings, Teacher: "I love the projects. I mean, I think it was something that needed to happen. We needed the lights fixed, we needed the sprinkler system and we needed the stage."

Engineers and the state fire marshal will tour and inspect the schools before Tuesday.

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