February 23, 2019

Asbestos warning sign at Clements causes concern for students and parents

CLEMENTS, Ala. (WAAY)- An asbestos waring sign posted Tuesday at Clements High School is causing concern for students and parents. But school officials claim students are not in any danger as crews remove the cancer causing material from the school.

The sign warning of cancer and lung disease caused a flood of phone calls from parents concerned for students health and safety.

The sign is posted to plastic and plywood blocking a wing of classrooms. It is easily seen as students pass the hallway on their way to and from classes. The sign states “Danger Asbestos. Cancer and lung disease hazard. Authorized personnel only. Respirators and protective clothing are required in this area.”

“The students were mistaken because it said danger respirators and breathing devices needed in this area. They did not understand that meant the area behind the signs that has been sealed off, not the hallways in which they’re walking” said Clements Principal Keith Hairrell.

Behind the sealed area, crews are removing old floor tiles that contain some levels of asbestos. The wing has been sealed from the rest of the school. Hairrell said only certain areas of the school need those tiles removed.

“The company that has been hired to do this is nationally accredited. We use a forced vacuum system. They create vapor barriers. They put up plastic barriers” said Limestone County Schools Superintendent Tom Sisk.

The asbestos removal is small part of $5.4 million in renovations that began Monday at the school and will continue for the next year. When the renovations are complete, the school will be remodeled inside and out.

“At no time are kids at risk” said Sisk. “We wouldn’t be allowed to do it first off. The state wouldn’t let us do it. Federal would let us do it. I want to reassure families that the process is the process but it’s a safe one.”

Sisk says the signs have to legally be posted to signify that the work is being done.

“The precautions are there and it’s a very costly process because we’re doing it by the book” said Sisk.

Hairrell said teachers plan to talk with the students on Thursday to assure them there is no danger.

“There is no risk to any of our students, our staff, our visitors, or parents on this campus” said Hairrell.


Asbestos warning sign at Clements causes concern for students and parents

Parents, students concerned about asbestos removal at Chapel Hill High School

The health of hundreds of students is under the microscope as Chapel Hill High School is dealing with asbestos and mold.

Mold was removed from this school just last month, which closed its library. Now, old floor tiles are the latest concern. Both are raising questions about one of the school system’s oldest buildings.

The latest concerns started when photos started circulating among students at the school.

“The sign on the door showed that asbestos was in the classroom and it could potentially cause cancer and we weren’t notified,” said parent Robert Johnson.

The photo showed a classroom that was sealed off to students and staff for fear of asbestos contamination. As a precaution, work crews conducted air quality tests that showed no threat to students or staff.

“I think they should notify us more frequently, especially when it comes to asbestos,” said Johnson. “They notified us of the mold issue with the library, but they didn’t notify of this issue.”

The school system said it issues a notice of asbestos containing materials at its schools every year but admits older school buildings like Chapel Hill High have become a problem.

“The current Chapel Hill High opened in 1966. It has become an expensive and challenging facility to sustain, as have many of our older buildings,” said the district in a statement. “It is in need of substantial repairs. Our district has recently initiated a community conversation regarding how we will move forward with renovations and increasing student capacity in the coming years.”

In the case of Chapel Hill High, it would cost the school system at least $10 million to make a laundry list of repairs, and up to $19 million to make repairs and new additions to the school. It would also cost $47 million to tear down one of its oldest school buildings to make way for a new one.

Meanwhile, asbestos removal will continue on the weekends only, not when students are in school.

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Parents, students concerned about asbestos removal at Chapel Hill High School