Andrew Jackson Middle remains closed after fire, students to attend class at neighboring schools

LANCASTER COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - A middle school in Lancaster County will be shut down for weeks after a fire damaged the school.

According to the Lancaster County School District, a fire broke out at Andrew Jackson Middle School on Kershaw Camden Highway around 9:30 p.m. Thursday evening.  There was little structural damage, but there was a lot of smoke.

The school was also closed for students on Friday.

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According to the school district, all of the other schools in the county remain open.

According to the Lancaster County School District's website, Andrew Jackson Middle School students will attend other schools in the area beginning Tuesday morning for "at least a week."

Superintendent Jonathan Phipps said students could be relocated for up to three weeks as crews continue to "clean soot from the building and repair damaged light fixtures, smoke alarms and the other minor damage caused by the fire at the school."

The superintendent released this statement:

"The fire was small and contained pretty much to a janitor's closet, thanks to our alarm systems and to the quick, professional response of our county fire fighters, but there was a lot of damage caused by smoke. We want to be sure all the soot is cleaned from every area of the building and that the building is completely safe for students and staff before we resume classes there."

Beginning on Tuesday, six graders will attend classes at Heath Springs Elementary, seventh graders will attend class at Kershaw Elementary and eight graders will attend class at Andrew Jackson High.

School officials say buses will still pick up Andrew Jackson Middle School students and return them at home at the same times but there may be minor delays.

Car drop-off will begin at 8 a.m. and afternoon pickup will begin at 3 p.m., school officials said. The website states that lunches will be offered for the students at the hosting schools.

School officials are hoping to have Andrew Jackson Middle back opened and repaired by the end of the month.

The cleanup efforts however do not come cheap. Phipps says he's received an estimate of about $1 million.

Lisa Muennich of Seth's Giving Tree donated $1,000 to the district to cover a portion of the costs and relive some burden. Muennich says she wants student back as soon as possible because she believes a student's best change for success is with some stability.

"[The moving of students] is very disruptive with their education and their family. It's a big deal," Muennich added.

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