Asbestos Prompts Parents to Threaten Removal of Students
It’s not “Happy Holidays” for a group of parents at a Baltimore City school who say they’re going to pull their students from the school in January if the district proceeds with a plan to replace an asbestos-laden roof while classes are in session.
Parents of students at Rosemont Elementary/Middle School, who were in attendance at a meeting last week when district officials announced that environmental contractors plan to demolish the existing roof during after-school hours from January through June, said this plan is simply not acceptable, reports the Baltimore Sun.
This is despite assurance from officials that workers will seal off and wet any work areas that may be of concern, a move which – they say – will prevent any toxic particles from spreading throughout the school.
A district spokesperson also confirmed that the air would be tested each day before students are allowed into the building.
“The building is safe for occupancy,” Alice Watson, the district’s director of health and safety, told dozens of concerned parents at the meeting. “We would not have you in the building if it was not safe for occupancy.”
But parents aren’t convinced that they won’t be putting their children in harm’s way come January. They told a Baltimore Sun reporter that they were very uncomfortable with the notion of sending their kids into the school just hours after workers will be removing asbestos, which can be found throughout the existing roof, which is aging and in great disrepair.
Many parents asked district officials if they would send their own children into the school under those circumstances.
“What is the assurance that we get that our children are protected here? As you may know, asbestos can cause all types of illnesses that are not right away identifiable,” asked April Bailey, a parent of two Rosemont students. “Our babies are here.”
Parents said they don’t understand why the students couldn’t be relocated while the abatement work is being completed. Apparently, the school partners with Coppin State University, which could possibly find room for the children during this refurbishment project.
Teachers are equally concerned. After the announcement was made on Dec. 6 that the work would begin in January, some of them wore surgical masks to school to call attention to what they also believe is a dangerous situation.
They, along with parents, have also asked why this project can’t commence next summer. However, the district claims that the summer months don’t provide enough time for all the work to be completed.