Andrea Swalec

Howard University Postpones Classes Due to Ruptured Pipes, Heat Issues

The university says weather-related problems have caused millions in damage

Howard University has postponed undergraduate, social work and graduate classes for more than a week because of ongoing heating issues and extensive damage from ruptured pipes.

In a statement to students Saturday night, the university said "power outages and ruptured pipes" on Friday night caused significant damage to several buildings on campus, including Annex I, Annex II, Douglas Hall and the Fine Arts building.

Spring semester classes at the historically black Washington, D.C. school were scheduled to start Monday. Now, the university says classes won't begin until Tuesday, Jan. 16 for undergraduate, social work and graduate school students.

"The residence halls are open and accepting students. However, students with classes starting on January 16th who can delay their return to campus to coincide with the new start date should do so if it doesn’t cause any undue hardship for themselves or their family," the university said.

On Sunday, the school said in an update that about 300 students in residence halls had no heat and were give emergency blankets and hand warmers. 

"A variety of activities are planned for students across all residence halls, including games, pizza parties, and movies. Coffee, hot chocolate and tea service is also being provided," the university said.

Two residence halls, Cook and Drew, had some heat and hot water on Saturday, but lost heat overnight due to a steam pipe rupture, the school said Sunday. Most of the buildings in the Harriet Tubman Quadrangle are also without heat. Crews are working on repairs, the university said.

Workers intentionally shut down a steam plant at 4 p.m. to connect a temporary boiler to Howard University Hospital. The school's main campus buildings will lose heat for a two-hour period during the maintenance.

"Once the temporary boiler is connected, we will push heat towards the main campus, prioritizing the residence halls and Bethune Annex cafeteria. If there are unanticipated problems that cause changes to this schedule, we will inform the campus community and execute our alternative residential plan," the school said.

The university said the temporary boiler would be in place by 8 p.m. Sunday and it would help heating conditions for all buildings over the course of the night.

Three buildings, the School of Business, Douglas Hall and Fine Arts building, are without power Sunday.

The start of classes in the university's Professional Schools and Colleges (divinity, law, medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy) will begin as scheduled on Monday. The University will also be open for business on Monday.

The campus closed earlier in the week after there were widespread failures in the heating system amid below-freezing temperatures.

"Sub-zero temperatures have resulted in boiler issues and ruptured steam pipes. This is in turn affecting heat dispersion across campus," university vice president Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy said in a statement.

Howard University Hospital remains open, and programming at WHUR-FM and WHUT-TV is broadcasting on its regular schedule.

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