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Detroit high school pivots to online learning following heavy flood damage

Several students sit at desks in a classroom with large windows.

A 2019 photo of students at work in a math class at Southeastern High School. Because of water damage sustained during the 2022 holiday break, students will pivot to online learning for nearly two months.

Anthony Lanzilote for Chalkbeat

Damage caused by heavy flooding over the winter break is sending students at Detroit’s Southeastern High School back to online learning for now.

The damage prompted the Detroit Public Schools Community District to close the building, near Mack Avenue and St. Jean, while it works to repair broken pipes and waterlogged classrooms. In the meantime, the school will shift to daily online learning, beginning Thursday, according to district spokesperson Chrystal Wilson. 

Students can pick up laptops from the school on Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare for the shift. Grab and Go meals will be provided on a weekly basis.

The damage will “require extensive repairs and restoration and will take the District nearly two months to complete,” Wilson said in a statement. 

Online learning is expected to continue “until an alternative building is identified for in-person or hybrid learning,” according to the school’s website.

While most of the school’s classrooms were damaged, the gymnasium was not as badly affected, Wilson said. The school’s athletic programs are expected to continue under a modified schedule. 

The repairs at Southeastern come ahead of a planned renovation of the century-old building as part of the district’s facility master plan. The project, which would add a new wing dedicated to manufacturing and career and technical center programs, was slated to begin this fall.

School board members approved a plan last May to commit $700 million to a series of construction projects across the city, including the development of new schools; renovations and restorations of deteriorating buildings, and upgrades to air conditioning systems across the district. 

This is at least the second time this school year that a DPSCD school has had to close for a building related issue. In November, Cody High School closed for two days after a person allegedly broke in and stole copper piping, temporarily damaging the school’s heating system.

Ethan Bakuli is a reporter for Chalkbeat Detroit covering Detroit Public Schools Community District. Contact Ethan at ebakuli@chalkbeat.org.

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