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Cummings K-8 students will spend week at LaRose Elementary after partial roof collapse at school injures 3

We are told three adults were taken to the hospital in non-critical condition, and no children were injured.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Fire Department responded to a partial ceiling collapse at Cummings K-8 Optional School in Memphis, near Walker Avenue and Cummings Street Monday.

MFD said it happened just before noon in the library of the school. One adult was in the library at the time. That adult was taken to the hospital in non-critical condition. 

Two other adults - not in the library at the time - were also taken to the hospital in non-critical condition.

No children were injured.

“We were just getting out the building a lot of smoke was just coming and stuff, so we had to run out the building. Then we went back in the building. We had to come back out again because they were like, it’s getting worse in the building, how it collapsed like on one side. Everybody had to go. Our phones were stuck in the office and stuff,” said Zaria Sims, Cummings 6th grade student.

The school evacuated students as MFD worked to inspect the buildings.

The students were escorted to Metropolitan Baptist Church to wait for their parents.

“We didn’t even get a phone call. I got a phone call from a friend telling me that Cummings is on the news saying that the kids are being moved to Metropolitan. The building had collapsed. I just got out of my bed and came on," said Peggy Gibson, grandparent of Cummings students.

“From SCS, I received a text message saying that they had an emergency at the school, but all the kids were safe. Meet them at the church for the dismissal,” said Alexis Sims, a parent.

We don't yet know what led to the collapse.

Memphis-Shelby County Schools issued the following statement: 

Greetings, Cummings K-8 Families. Thank you for your patience today as we navigated an unexpected maintenance issue. As a result, Cummings students will attend school at LaRose Elementary for the rest of this week. The address is 864 Willoughby.

Arrival time is 8:15 a.m. School is from 8:30am to 3:30pm. MSCS is offering buses from Cummings to LaRose for arrival and dismissal, but parent drop-off straight to LaRose is encouraged and would be appreciated. Thank you, and please don't hesitate to reach out to the school with any questions. Have a good evening.

MSCS deputy superintendent Dr. John Barker said it was the drop-down ceiling which collapsed in the library. Barker and MSCS Chair, Michelle McKissack, said the collapse points to a larger issue.

“This building was built in 1961, so it is a little bit more aged building. What we’ll be able to do is take a look at our building structure there,” said Barker.

“The administration has been asking for several years for additional funding, so that we can build new school buildings, address some of the deferred maintenance. We certainly received some help with the federal funds recently and replacing A/C systems across the district, but we need more,” said McKissack.

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