The ceiling of the media center at James Rickards Middle School in Oakland Park collapsed this morning, forcing the school to evacuate its children and faculty.

Fortunately, the room was not occupied and there were no major injuries reported.

“It was really fortunate that the area was under construction and not occupied at the time,” said Shannon Vezina, the public information officer for the city of Oakland Park.

At around 10 a.m., principal Dr. Washington Collado heard a noise and went to investigate, Vezina said. He discovered that the roof had collapsed at the media center, which was under construction. According to photos sent by the city, the entire ceiling appears to have fallen in almost a single piece.

No students, faculty or construction workers were in the room at the time.

Per protocol, the students and staff were evacuated to nearby Northeast High School, where parents were able to pick up their children. Emergency medical services also took 12 students and faculty to Broward Health and Holy Cross Hospital to be checked out for headaches and anxiety.

Oakland Park Fire Rescue and tactical response teams from Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue and the Broward Sheriff’s Office responded to the incident. On site, they found that there was a water leak, but Vezina said they are unsure if it was the cause of the collapse, a result of it, or a coincidence.

Students will not be returning to school today, and it’s unclear what the plans are for Monday.

Collado was recently awarded Principal of the Year in the county and was recognized at this week’s Oakland Park City Commission meeting.

Parents wanting a status update can call 754-322-1550.

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Photos courtesy of Shannon Vezina.


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