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Some Mat-Su students will get a 2-week break after earthquake

Earthquake damaged classroom at Houston Middle School on Monday, Dec. 3. 2018. (Bill Roth / ADN)

PALMER -- Even as many Mat-Su students returned to class Thursday, students at three schools learned they can’t go back until late next week.

That’s due to damage from the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that damaged parts of buildings, toppled computers and dislodged ceiling tiles.

Schools took the brunt of the earthquake, which had an epicenter on Point MacKenzie in the borough. More than 110 cases of damage reported so far include 50 reports of structural damage to schools, according to emergency managers here. Twenty-one are for damaged homes. The rest are borough and state roads.

Colony High School, Colony Middle School and Finger Lake Elementary will reopen to students Friday, Dec. 14, pending final inspections, according to an update the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District posted Thursday.

That’s two weeks after the earthquake closed schools Nov. 30. District officials say the delays getting back into classrooms won’t push the school year later, however. The state waived any school closure days, district spokeswoman Jillian Morrissey said Thursday.

The quake took different tolls at different schools.

At Colony High, the gym sustained structural damage, the update says. The middle school and elementary school experienced significant ceiling tile and grid damage.

Some Mat-Su schools, mostly in the less-damaged parts of the upper Susitna Valley, reopened Monday. Most of the rest opened Thursday.

But the earthquake inflicted so much damage on the cinder blocks that make up the walls at Houston Middle School that the school can’t reopen this year and may not reopen next school year either, officials have said. Instead, students will attend classes at Houston High School.

Houston High will reopen to high school students Wednesday, according to the district update. Houston middle-schoolers will report to class at the high school on Thursday, Dec. 13.

Wasilla High School, Wasilla Middle School, Joe Redington Sr. Junior/Senior High School, Dena’ina Elementary School, Knik Elementary, Big Lake Elementary and Goose Bay Elementary will open for students Tuesday.

Mat-Su Central School’s Wasilla office will open to students Tuesday. But the school’s smaller Palmer office is closed until further inspection, the district says.

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