Flood damage will not prevent Lochaber High reopening

The water damage at Lochaber High School, pictured, was discovered over the weekend. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO-F23-Lochaber-High-School-scaled.jpg
The water damage at Lochaber High School, pictured, was discovered over the weekend. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO-F23-Lochaber-High-School-scaled.jpg

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A burst water pipe on the third floor of Lochaber High School which caused major damage to the building, will not impact on the school being reopened to pupils on August 11, according to The Highland Council education committee chairman, Councillor John Finlayson.

As soon as the burst was discovered over the weekend, local authority staff made alternative arrangements, allowing the coronavirus Key Worker Hub located within Fort William’s secondary school to be moved, reopening first thing on Monday morning at St Columba’s Joint Campus at Caol.

A photograph from inside the school showing some of the damage. NO F23 LHS23
A photograph from inside the school showing some of the damage.
NO F23 LHS23

In a statement, Councillor Finlayson said: ‘I would like to thank everyone involved for their quick work to set up alternative arrangements so efficiently, working over the weekend to ensure that disruption to key workers and their children was kept to a minimum.

‘All of the families affected were informed over the weekend and I am sure staff will be working extra hard to make sure the children settle in well at the Caol Joint Campus.’

Work to make safe the affected areas to allow a full assessment of the damage and repair work required is now under way, and in the meantime, the school’s head teacher Scott Steele and his senior management team have moved to office space in Fort William.

The Keeping in Touch Hub was due to open at Lochaber High School for allocated pupils. Caol Primary has been chosen as the alternative venue for this hub. Parents were informed and staff were working hard to open yesterday (Wednesday).

A Keeping in Touch Hub is specifically for young people and their families who require more support and is part of managing the phased return to school for all pupils.

Asked later by the Lochaber Times if the flood damage meant there would be any delay to the school being open to receive students in August, Councillor Finlayson told us: ‘No I don’t think there is any threat to plans to reopen the school in August. My understanding is that it was a burst copper pipe, possibly involving a seal of some description.

‘Because it was discovered on the Saturday it was able to be stopped before the damage was made worse and allowed the clean-up operation to get started and that is now well under way.

‘I can’t think of any reason for it to affect the reopening of the school on August 11.’

The Lochaber Times understands it will take around three weeks to repair the damage caused by the burst pipe.