MOUNT PLEASANT — Administrators say heavy snow likely collapsed the roof of the Sonnenberg School building in Mount Pleasant overnight Tuesday.
The school serves students with autism and special needs.
Jennifer Hawley enrolled her son at Sonnenberg in September to learn in person with a virtual option.
"My son has really thrived since he started there," Hawley said. "He does really well with a smaller class size, and so much more attention."
On Tuesday, virtual was the only option for students. That's when Hawley learned the roof had collapsed.
"One silver lining, he has experienced virtual school in the past, so he was prepared for this," Hawley said. "And we were able to seamlessly jump in. And because of all the skills he's learned since being at Sonnenberg, he's so much more independent than he ever was in the past, where he's able to do this schooling on his own, even if it's from home. But he’s grappling with the fact of not being able to see his friends, and how long this is going to be - all the unknowns."
Administrators say the collapse caused a water main break, and the building is now condemned. They don't think they will be able to return to the building for at least the rest of the school year.
"We were able to start in person in August, and we've been able to maintain that throughout," said Executive Director Heather Wenthold-Bartsch. "So after all the effort, and work, and the consistency and the proactivity, and the measures we had taken to make sure kids and staff were safe so that they could be learning in person - to all of the sudden see something so out of our control take us out, it’s devastating. Our children thrive on consistency."
Now administrators are scrambling to find a temporary school, hopefully in the next week or so. Wenthold-Bartsch said the campus in Mount Pleasant serves 36 students in the school and about 15-20 in the clinic, as well as 55-60 staff.
She said the campus in Pleasant Prairie can accommodate a few students from Mount Pleasant.
Wenthold-Bartsch said they cannot enter the building to see if they can retrieve any supplies, including 36 tablets the students use to learn every day. She said they also need other supplies such as tables and chairs.
"Any way we can get the ball rolling faster to get these kids back to in-person learning, so they can thrive again," Hawley said.