Junior high closed indefinitely due to earthquake damage

Apr 1, 2020, 10:34 AM
west valley west lake junior high earthquake...
West Lake STEM Junior High School in West Valley City was damaged by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake that was centered near Magna on March 18. (PHOTO: Deseret News)
(PHOTO: Deseret News)

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — A West Valley junior high school will close indefinitely, two weeks after the Magna earthquake caused some serious damage.

Officials deemed West Lake STEM Junior High a restricted building after inspectors found structural damage inside.

Collapsing ceilings

Clint Mecham, Salt Lake County Emergency Management division chief, says the damage includes some ceilings caving in and rubble in the hallways. He does not yet know whether the building is a total loss or can be repaired. So even if COVID-19 school closures lift on May 1, students won’t be going back to West Lake anytime soon.

“Students will not return to that facility this year,” Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley told the Deseret News. “So if we were to come back to school (in May), we would continue with distance learning at West Lake Junior High.”

Horsley says they are describing the school as “closed indefinitely” because of the number of unknowns.

“We are relying on the expertise of the state and their folks to make a decision on whether renovation will occur or a full rebuild,” Horsley said. “We hope to know something before the end of the school year. It could literally take a few more weeks or a few more months.”

Extended timeline

He adds it will likely take “at least a year or two” to reopen if officials declare the school a total loss, meaning it must be rebuilt. Because of that, school district officials are now looking for some “off-site locations” where students could be relocated in the meantime.

School board members will likely address those options at the district’s next board meeting in May.

Thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, school officials have more of a cushion to evaluate damage and make plans for the future.

“Of the whole global pandemic, this [is] the only positive that’s come of that,” explains Horsley.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


Utah disaster funding earthquake study...
Simone Seikaly

What Utah can expect from federal funding after a disaster like Ian

What can those in Utah expect from federal disaster funding when a natural disaster on par with Hurricane Ian hits home?
4 months ago
Another earthquake hit Utah, following two yesterday, around 2:58 p.m. It was located 2.8 miles nor...
Waverly Golden

Another earthquake hits Utah, near Magna

Another earthquake hit Utah, following two that shook the Beehive State on Monday.
4 months ago
cash disaster emergency...
Rikki Meece

Cash is king after a natural disaster or similar emergency, so have some!

Learn about how much cash money you should have in an emergency (in what increments) and some cool, even surprising ways, to save it.
9 months ago
Food storage is an essential part of emergency planning....
Kira Hoffelmeyer

How to prepare for an emergency when you’re not really into it

You don't have to be worried about a zombie apocalypse to prepare for an emergency. It's as simple as gathering items from around your house.
9 months ago
magna earthquake sequence...
Dan Bammes

Magna earthquake helps scientists understand Utah’s vulnerability

The Magna earthquake on March 18, 2020, and its aftershocks offered data to scientists to help them learn about Utah's vulnerabilities.
11 months ago
Utah disaster funding earthquake study...
Simone Seikaly

Water, schools, among major concerns for Utah earthquake commission

Implementing five suggestions will go a long way in making Utahns safer when the "big" Utah earthquake finally hits said commission.
1 year ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Junior high closed indefinitely due to earthquake damage