Day off after school caught short as mercury plunges

As temperatures plummeted below zero throughout Central Otago this week, one Alexandra school was caught short.

Pupils at The Terrace School had a novel excuse for missing school yesterday — the toilets froze.

Principal Sarah Graham said pipes in the main toilet block attached to the library froze, leaving the school without running water or enough toilets.

The school intended to start at 10am but as that time approached it became clear the problem would not be fixed, so after consulting the Ministry of Education parents were asked to keep children at home if possible.

Those who could not stay home were looked after at school, Ms Graham said.

"We have no running water, and with winter bugs and of course Covid, the health and safety of our school is paramount," she said.

"We appreciate this is an unusual situation and with families having to take time off with Covid and winter illnesses we are grateful for their support on a day like today."

While extreme cold weather is not unusual in Alexandra, it was the first time she was aware of that the school toilets had frozen.

"I’ve been here for almost five years and never had this scenario."

The school had heaters in the toilets to prevent pipes from freezing, but the combination of rain earlier in the week being retained in the ground, sub-zero temperatures and consecutive days of hoar frosts made for the "perfect storm".

"It’s not a regular occurrence."

By mid-afternoon the toilets were drawing water again and she hoped things would be back to normal by the time pupils returned to school after the long weekend on Tuesday, Ms Graham said.

The school has a teacher-only day on Monday



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