Old Center Elementary evacuates students and staff second time this year

Students are taken to the former Gra-Mar Middle School building as a precaution after the methane gas leak was discovered.
Students were taken to Gra-Mar Middle School while officials worked to find the cause of the leak.
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 7:35 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Students at a Goodlettsville elementary school had to evacuate in the middle of the day for the second time this year on Friday morning. A gas leak forced the entire school to relocate to a local middle school.

Metro Nashville Public Schools had buses drive over 300 students from Old Center Elementary School to what used to be Gra-Mar Middle School in East Nashville.

Nivin Naffa’s kindergarten daughter was one of those students.

“I was concerned,” she said. “I asked why, and they were like “there’s a gas leak and the fire department, they are coming to the school”.”

MNPS said while crews were working on an addition to Old Center, they drilled into a methane gas pocket, opening it.

“It’s just something you can’t control,” said Jennifer Frensley Webb, Metro Council Member for District 10. She hopes the leak is fixed soon.

“The biggest thing about it is you don’t know how long that’s going to be,” said Frensley Webb.

This is the second time students at Old Center were evacuated this year. Two months ago, they were relocated to Goodlettsville Elementary School for a week. Frensley Webb said she wants a solution.

“I’d like to find out why it’s happening and if it’s something that can be prevented,” she said. “I’m not an expert on that, so I’d have to leave that up to the Nashville Fire Department to tell me what their expertise opinion is.”

It’s hassle for teachers who brought bins of supplies to the temporary location. While they don’t know how long they will be at Gra-Mar, parents like Naffa are OK with it.

“I want it to be safe for everyone,” she said. “So, I’m not going to ask for rushing stuff.”

MNPS said it is working with NFD, construction teams, and gas experts to further assess the situation over the weekend.