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Philadelphia students affected by asbestos closures after spring break


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    PHILADELPHIA (KYW) — Spring break is over for Philadelphia public schools students, but not all students will return to class after asbestos was found in two more city schools.

This affects nearly 1,500 students.

Officials say Frankford High School will be closed Monday and will transition to virtual learning Tuesday and Wednesday. Mitchell Elementary School will be virtual for the rest of the school year.

In a letter home to families, the principal of Mitchell said there was no easy way to communicate not having a school home for the rest of the school year. She apologized for the challenges ahead.

School leaders say the two schools, Mitchell Elementary School in Southwest Philadelphia and Frankford High School, are among two of the oldest buildings in the district. Both are more than 100 years old.

Original tests in the 1990s showed no asbestos detected, but after asbestos was recently found in two other schools dating back to the same era, Building 21 and Simon Gratz Mastery Charter School, the district retested and found that certain plaster walls and ceilings do, in fact, contain asbestos.

Intact asbestos is not dangerous, but when it’s damaged, the material releases tiny, potentially toxic fibers into the air that can be ingested.

In a statement, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers said, in part,:

“For years, we’ve called for critically needed investments in school facilities—and for more transparency in the processes of inspection and remediation.”

The closures of the Mitchell and Frankford buildings are emblematic of the need for both.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

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