Exeter-West Greenwich schools to reopen Wednesday

Administrators in the Exeter-West Greenwich Regional School District said all schools would reopen Wednesday.

Classes were canceled across the district Tuesday because of a problem with the septic system at the junior-senior high school.

"The alarm on the outdoor septic system was going off Monday," superintendent James Erinakes said.

That alarm sent out the warning that the schools bathrooms weren't working. Schools were closed Monday because of the Veterans Day holiday.

"Nobody would come out on the holiday that late in the day to fix the problem," Erinakes said.

Workers fixed the problem Tuesday. What they found was a crack in the discharge PVC pipe, so the system wasn't flowing properly.

The septic system is working again, but students lost a day of school.

"If we opened school for just some of the students and not others, we're basically paying for another day of buses. We did anticipate that this would be a one-day problem. So, for a one-day issue -- we haven't had any cancellations so far this year -- this was a decision that in the end would save money," Erinakes said.

The district's schools are in rural towns. Instead of a municipal sewer, the buildings rely on septic systems and have their own wells.

In 2010, the drinking water tested positive for bacteria, forcing the district to use boiled and bottled water for a few days.

And last school year, downed trees and power outages from several storms caused school to canceled for seven days, pushing back high school graduation for a week.

But administrators said this week's septic problem is not related.

"This is isolated. When there are power outages, we're in a very wooded area. Trees go down, lines go down. So there have been issues when storms are happening, but this is completely separate from any of the issues that I've experienced since I've been here," Erinakes said.