Schiller Elementary School students in the St. Louis suburb of Centralia have been gearing up to return to the classroom on Tuesday, August 18 – but they won’t be going back to their usual building for the time being. Centralia City School board president Ron Johnson says Schiller Elementary will be closed at least through the end of September as remediation technicians work to eliminate the presence of black mold and asbestos.
Prolonged exposure to toxic mold and asbestos can lead to severe respiratory illnesses ranging from asthma to lung cancer. School and district administrators wisely decided that it was in the best interest of the students’ and staff members’ health to relocate while specialists handle the situation swiftly and safely. Schiller principal Amanda Marshall pointed out that the insulation was literally made of asbestos and the mold growing on it was visible to the naked eye.
Until the air, walls, pipes, and ducts test clean, over 200 Schilling Elementary teachers and students will educate and learn at Calumet Christian Church on the other side of town. Teachers lament that they had less than 48 hours to pack and unpack their classrooms before teachers’ institutes on Monday, August 17. They understand that this quick, haphazard relocation doesn’t allow for them to be as well-organized as they’d like to be when starting the school year, but what matters most is that students are able to learn in a safe environment.
Parents have not expressed much concern over the move from school building to church building. What bothers them is that their children could have been breathing the toxic air from the mold and asbestos for years without knowing it.
Johnson says that air testing last year did not reveal any abnormal results or sub-standard air quality, and parents and students have nothing to worry about. He and other board members and administrators speculate that the mold likely developed when the school’s air conditioning was replaced three summers ago. This time around, they won’t cut any corners. They know that mold in schools is no joke. Removing the mold and asbestos is expected to cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars – a small price to pay for students’ well-being.
Tags: asbestos, education, mold, mold remediation