2 elementary schools close early for asbestos abatement

By KYW Newsradio 1060

Editor's note: The district announced on Jan. 3 that Carnell will remain closed through Jan. 6. McClure will reopen on Jan. 13.

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Some School District of Philadelphia students are starting winter break a day early.

Alexander McClure and Laura H. Carnell elementary schools are closed Friday — the last full day for students before the break — out of “an abundance of caution” of asbestos in the buildings.

The district said its Office of Environmental Management and Services found damage to asbestos-containing pipe insulation at both schools on Thursday and immediately took action.

Officials are cleaning the buildings and testing the air quality, and results will be posted online. Work is expected be completed before students and staff return on Jan. 2.

Carnell staff will work out of the lower schoolhouse building Friday. McClure will also be closed on Monday, though the district’s calendar says that is a scheduled staff-only development day.

After being notified by the district, the teachers union's environmental science director, Jerry Roseman, went to Carnell Thursday and found hazardous conditions in Classroom 108.

"That room had damaged asbestos insulation on piping in the classroom and in the closet that I found to be alarming and considered it to be an imminent hazard as well that had obviously not been previously included," Roseman said.

Roseman said Carnell staffers told him the pipe insulation had been in that condition for eight years.  

Both Ben Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy, which started sharing an adjoined building this school year, were abruptly closed after severe asbestos was found discovered in early October. Asbestos abatement has been ongoing, while students resume classes at interim locations.

Last month, Superintendent William Hite announced those two schools will not be back in their buildings by the start of the new year.

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KYW Newsradio's Mike DeNardo contributed to this report.