Dannevirke South School was in chaos yesterday after an engineer's report condemned an important school building, displacing 175 pupils.
A report by Kell Engineering in Napier showed Block A, which encompasses seven classrooms, the administration office, teacher resource rooms and the library, had structural damage in the roof with the potential to result in the ceiling crashing down.
"This has been a big shock for all of us and it has come out of the blue," South School principal Stephen Snell said.
"Thankfully, the problems were picked up in the check."
The structural damage was identified during a routine check as part of the school property development plan, but it was not a new problem, Mr Snell said.
"We found out at 4pm on Friday from the Ministry of Education that the building was not safe for our pupils and the board took immediate steps to close the affected buildings. There are serious issues with the roof structure, which appear to have occurred because of the many alterations done over the years," Mr Snell said.
Assessments were still being carried out on the building and it was too early to talk about the cost of repairs.
"There is no easy or quick fix and this issue will take some time to rectify. I hope it is done by the end of the year but we have to do everything we can to ensure the building is safe for our children," the principal said.
The closure has caused great upheaval throughout the school and staff worked through the weekend to organise classrooms and put alternative arrangements in place.
"This has affected around half of the school of 350 pupils, so it hasn't been an easy task," Mr Snell said.
"We have children in the hall and put a buddy classroom system in place, so we have more than one group of children in some classes.
"We had alternate activities for the children on Monday and for the next few days. It is going to be quite messy but the children see it as a bit of an adventure and they have been absolutely brilliant."
Long-term arrangements are being put in place which will see two classes set up in the hall and, with adjustments to current classrooms, two more will be accommodated on the site. However, three classes of children will have to be taught off the site, which could also lead to a slight change in the curriculum. A Portacom building will be moved in this week to serve as the administration block, which is operating out of a classroom.
"We are currently negotiating with another school to house our children," Mr Snell said. "They will be bused to the alternative location, there and back each day.
"We are doing everything possible to keep stress levels at a minimum for everyone but this is a huge disruption."
Mr Snell met Ministry of Education representatives on Monday to work out strategies for the coming weeks.
"We have a property adviser, project manager and curriculum adviser on the team, and we are going through everything with a fine-toothed comb. We are also working very closely with School Support Napier, who have given us excellent advice. We called an assembly first thing to let children and parents know what is going on.
"The big thing is to keep everyone updated, and we are in the process of setting up an email address so we can send out daily updates and our parents can use it to air any concerns they may have."
Mr Snell said parents wanting further information should log on to the school's website, which would be regularly updated.