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LITTLE ROCK -- Some 200 Upper School students at Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock will return to classes on campus by the end of this month after an Aug. 29 lightning strike, smoke and water damage to their classroom building caused them to shift suddenly to online learning.

David Perkinson, Episcopal Collegiate's head of school, said Monday students will return to use the first-floor classrooms in the two-story, 18-year-old building, as well classrooms in five portable buildings to be placed on the campus.

"That will get us all back on campus," Perkinson said. "Kids just miss being together so much. In fact, we miss being around kids. Last spring we were closed because of the pandemic and we were all so excited to be coming back to campus this fall. It was a gut punch to have to go to virtual because of the fire."

Perkinson said he didn't yet have a final cost on the damage. He said plans call to have the building fully repaired before the end of this 2020-21 school year.

The Upper School building at Episcopal Collegiate School, 1701 Cantrell Road, was struck by lightning about 3:50 p.m. on that last Saturday in August.

The affected roof system has metal decking, 4-inch thick rigid foam insulation, plywood and shingles.

"The lightning strike penetrated everything to the metal decking, and then just spread out and started a smoldering fire," Perkinson said.

There was significant smoke and water damage to the 11 classrooms.

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