McClymonds High School deemed safe to reopen after chemical scare

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Earlier this year, McClymonds High School in Oakland had to be closed because cancer causing toxins were found in the groundwater.

Now, new test results show the school can reopen once distance learning is over.

“The school is safe to return to in-person instruction,” said Oakland Unified School District Spokesperson John Sasaki.

Sasaki said the tests for Trichloroethylene, a toxin found in groundwater under McClymonds, came back negative in classrooms, hallways and other places where students would be.

TCE was found in the air in a boiler room and a drain, but those areas have been sealed off and air purifiers have been installed, Sasaki added.

“The air purifiers are high, very high-end air purifiers,” he said. “They will be there just to provide an extra layer of comfort to our students and staff.”

While McClymonds students are distance learning because of the coronavirus pandemic, Principal Jeff Taylor told KCBS Radio that some staff have already returned to school.

“My assistant principal is there,” he said. “We have a few teachers working from their class, doing their Zoom class.”

The TCE likely came from an old metal shop or dry cleaners, and further study is required to see if the toxic groundwater plume may be contaminating homes or businesses.