Asbestos Test Finds Contamination at New York School
Spring Valley High School in New York has been forced to return to remote learning until January 2022 to undergo asbestos abatement, according to a statement by East Ramapo Central School District Superintendent Dr. Clarence G. Ellis.
The statement, sent as a letter to parents in the school district last week, stated that the district conducted air quality testing at Spring Valley High School and found the presence of both mold and asbestos at the New York school.
Rockland County Department of Health visited the school, where they inspected several rooms. Inspectors noted peeling wallpaper, with some areas appearing black underneath. As many as 15 classrooms could be contaminated with asbestos or mold.
The school district hired Wappingers Falls-based consultant Larry Holzapfel of Quality Environmental Solutions & Techbnologies, Inc. Ellis anticipates the asbestos remediation could be completed by December 23, 2021, with a return to in-person learning on Monday, January 3, 2022.
Asbestos Not a Rarety in Schools Around the United States
Asbestos is a toxic mineral manufactured into insulation for decades. Structures built between 1930 and 1980, including schools, likely contained asbestos in some capacity. School structures may contain this toxin throughout air ducts, door gaskets, floor tiles, insulation, roofing shingles, and textured paint.
Schools in New York and around the country began the school year back in the classroom after a year-and-a-half-long battle with COVID-19 forcing remote learning. Since the start of the year, some schools were sent back to virtual learning for other safety concerns, including asbestos exposure.
Earlier this year, a Massachusetts school temporarily closed due to asbestos exposure concerns following water damage cleanup. Students returned to in-person learning shortly after the 50-year-old building underwent extensive testing for contamination.
More than 7 million teachers and 50 million students across the United States risk coming into contact with the toxin. According to a study from the Office of Senator Edward J. Markey, an estimated one-third of public schools in the United States still contain asbestos in some form.
The beginning of the school year at a Philadelphia school started off with concerns over possible asbestos hazards. The Julia R. Masterman magnet school in the School District of Philadelphia received backlash from parents and teachers over ongoing building improvements as the school year began in August. Parents argued there was a complete lack of information regarding the school’s safety plan after the school year was delayed. Classes began shortly after the delay after a thorough inspection deemed in-person classes safe to resume.