School waiting for asbestos all-clear
It was unclear last night if a school hit with an asbestos problem will be able to open for the new school term.
Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said AC Management and Bermuda Water Consultants had carried out removal work and collected air samples at Clearwater Middle School in St David’s and an overseas lab had found the samples were free of asbestos.
But floor tiles, suspected to contain asbestos, were damaged during the removal, which meant extra work had to be carried out.
Mr Rabain said: “We have had a conversation with the Department of Health and the Department of Health has agreed that they have examined what is going on at Clearwater and they are in the process of determining, because of this new thing that has popped up, they are in the process of determining whether the school can be operating while this work is being undertaken.
“We expect to hear from them today, in fact.”
A government spokeswoman previously said that asbestos was discovered in the ceiling of the cafeteria and closet spaces in June. Remediation work was carried out over the summer and completed on August 5.
But the Government said last week that further air samples had been sent overseas after concerns were raised about floor tiles at the school.
Mr Rabain said yesterday: “The results were submitted to the Department of Health who issued a health certificate of completion — the final step in any asbestos abatement process in Bermuda.
“Further abatement work was needed because the original abatement work that was carried out damaged some floor tiles. That work is currently under way.”
He added: “Under any other circumstances, finding asbestos at any school is an issue that would be quickly addressed and dealt with by the Ministry of Public Works and third-party licensed contractors.
“However, in keeping with my promise to be transparent and open with my communication with relevant stakeholders, I deemed it critical to provide this update.”
The minister said the department had pledged to work with parents and staff at schools to deal with questions and keep them aware of work being done at the school.
Mr Rabain added: “Our approach is simple. We will focus our efforts where they are needed and communicate with those that are affected as soon as practicable.
“This morning, the ministry and department received a report on the readiness of schools, and I am pleased to report that the majority of Bermuda public schools will be ready to receive teachers and staff on September 3, and students on September 10.”
He said the Government had yet to receive confirmation from two schools, but that was expected before the end of yesterday.
Mr Rabain added: “What we are waiting for is indication that the schools have been cleaned and are ready for teachers.
“We have the majority of them — all but two schools — that they will be set up and ready for Monday.”
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