By Howard Monroe

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia police are investigating after a Catholic school was broken into, which caused extensive damage. 

“The kids of the community need this school so at every opportunity when something knocks you down you just open the doors again and let them back in,” Ed Coleman, the principal at Visitation BVM School, said. 

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The doors of BVM in Kensington have been closed since early last week. But it’s not because of a COVID outbreak, or Thanksgiving break. 

The school has been closed because someone broke into the school on Lehigh Avenue and stole pipes. It caused the school to flood and knocked out the heat. The parish attached to the school has also been affected.

“The last 3 days were the hardest days I’ve had and nobody was even here,” Coleman said.

After the pipes were ripped from the wall, the basement was under as much as 4-feet of water. Now, all pumps, valves, and motors have to be replaced.

School officials say the thieves were inside for more than four hours. They say they’re now working on additional security measures.

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“It left us all shaking our heads of why somebody would do something like that to a school,” Coleman said.

Nearly 400 students were forced into virtual learning again. But it came as they were nearing the end of their first trimester. 

The school’s pledge includes the words honor, integrity, and respect. Coleman has this message for the thieves 

“Integrity is basically what you’re going to do when no one is looking,” Coleman said. “Are you going to do the right thing or the wrong thing? That’s what we try to tell them: do the right thing.”

Coleman added, “And if you go through that through life honor, integrity, respect, then you question what you’re doing at every point. Then these kinds of mistakes don’t happen.”

The school’s goal is to have students back in the classroom Monday morning. 

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The school has insurance, but they’re asking for the public’s help if they incur additional costs.