Sewage Backup Closes Collingswood Middle School Early


District Superintendent Fredrick McDowell says students were sent home midday while crews worked to uncover the source of the issue. School will resume normally Thursday.

By Matt Skoufalos | December 15, 2021

Collingswood Middle School (CMS) students were dismissed early Wednesday afternoon after a sewage clog jammed floor drains in the building kitchen and bathrooms on the first and second floors of the building.

According to Collingswood Superintendent of Schools Fredrick McDowell, the problem was first identified as backed-up grease traps in the CMS cafeteria kitchen.

The district plumber tried to clear the blockage, but half an hour after the problem was reported, bathrooms began to back up as well. Multiple complaints of foul odors were reported, and a strong smell of methane was observed.

McDowell said administrators made the decision to send students and staff home at 11:45 a.m., boxing up lunches for those children who hadn’t eaten yet during the day.

After the building was evacuated, maintenance crews opened several drain clean-outs, but were unable to clear them. A commercial plumbing company was brought in to power-jet the drainage lines, which finally cleared the blockages after some effort.

McDowell said crews cleaned up the work site, and used floor fans and hydroxyl generators to dry the affected area and combat any lingering smells. Evening custodians will disinfect them again so that the building can resume normal instruction Thursday.

The superintendent said the cause of the blockage was yet unknown, but that it could have been related to colder temperatures.

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