Seismic concerns shutter Anchorage school; nearly 400 students to be relocated

Ursa Major Elementary School may have issues that make the school building vulnerable to a seismic event, according to a letter from Anchorage School District.
Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 5:24 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Ursa Major Elementary School may have issues that make the school building vulnerable to a seismic event, according to a letter from Anchorage School District Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt sent to some parents on Monday.

In the letter, Bryantt says that 85 schools within the district have been analyzed by an engineering firm since the 2018 magnitude 7.1 earthquake that shook Southcentral Alaska. There are 397 students who attend Ursa Major, and the letter was also sent to parents of Ursa Minor, Aurora, and Orion elementary schools.

“I am writing to make you aware of findings from a verbal report the engineers brought forth late last week that included concerns that if a seismic event was to occur, the building would not perform at a level of collapse prevention that the District requires of its campuses,” Bryantt wrote. “Out of an abundance of caution, I have decided to halt use of Ursa Major until further evaluation has been done. The District will receive a full written report from the engineering firm this week.”

Bryantt wrote that conversations are taking place between Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson principals and base leadership, and the district will work to inform families of Ursa Major students expediently.

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