Francis Hopkinson school to close Monday and Tuesday for environmental testing

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- School District of Philadelphia officials said Francis Hopkinson School will be temporarily closed on Monday, Feb. 3 and Tuesday, Feb. 4, for environmental testing.

Staff is expected to report to the Little School House building on these days. The district said further communication will be provided to staff and families about the schedule for the rest of the week.

Grab-and-go breakfast and lunch meals will be available for pickup on Monday and Tuesday. Both meals will be available for pickup at the Little School House from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Previous cases of damaged asbestos that have been identified were communicated with families and addressed; however, the district says there are new concerns about safety at the school after asbestos-containing materials may have been disturbed above ceiling tiles that were replaced over the summer.

The district said the school will be closed so that further environmental testing can be conducted at the building.
According to the district, two independent testing companies will be brought in to establish testing areas to monitor for the presence of asbestos.

Action News caught up with Jose Perez, who said he recently moved to Wissinoming and was on his way to enroll his 1st-grade son at James Sullivan Elementary School, but said he had concerns after learning students were attending classes with quarantined off areas for asbestos.

"That's making me definitely have second thoughts about going in there right now," said Perez.

Pictures sent to Action News anonymously, show the quarantined parts of Sullivan Elementary.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) will be invited to work with the district on the process and all results will be reviewed with the organization.

"What we're dealing with in our district right now is a crisis," said Jerry Jordan, the president of PFT.

Jordan said he was at Bregy Elementary School in South Philadelphia on Monday, where they have their auditorium quarantined while students are attending. He later stopped by Hopkinson Elementary.

"We are out here fighting to make sure that the buildings are repaired and that they are safe for the children and the staff," Jordan said.

A teacher Action News spoke with at Science Leadership Academy, which is closed for asbestos exposure, said he wants to be able to trust the schools are safe enough to return to.

"I think if you look at the way that some of these students, and parents and educators around the city have been mistreated this year, and the way that this crisis has been mishandled, I think it's hard to make the argument that the school district, or that the suits, are doing right by our kids and communities," said Daniel Symonds, a teacher at SLA.

In response to some people losing trust in the school district, Monica Lewis, who's the deputy chief of communications for the district, said, "I would venture to say there's probably more people who do trust than those who don't."

Concerned families and members of the public are urged to monitor the school district's website as well as the school's website for updated information.
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