Pinelands school shuts down indefinitely after screw falls on student

Sunday, October 15, 2017 07:10AM
Pinelands school shuts down indefinitely after screw falls on student . Jeff Chirico reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on October 13, 2017.

Parents flocked to an urgent meeting Friday night to find out the Pinelands Regional High School is shutting down indefinitely.

"I'm happy about that. I'm absolutely happy about that," one parent said.

Parents were mostly upbeat as they left the emergency meeting.

The acting superintendent, Dr. Cheryl Stevenson says the decision was made after a screw in a roof fell on a student Thursday. He wasn't injured.

She said, "At that point we needed to ascertain what the issue was and check all the screws that are in the roofing, but the number of screws in the roof - there are tens of thousands of them."

"I feel a lot better tonight," said parent Stacy Caban of Egg Harbor, N.J.

This comes as a relief for some parents who had called for the school to be closed earlier over air quality concerns.

Asbestos was found during an ongoing roofing project. Air quality tests last week came back normal, but Caban isn't sold.

"Both my kids were having issues. We chalked it up to being seasonal, nothing important. But come to find out it may not have been," she said.

Officials say beginning Monday, high school students will take classes at the junior high for four hours in the morning. The junior high students will attend for four hours in the afternoon.

The plan doesn't please everyone.

One father Jason Brees said, "A lot of people in there, if you don't have flexible jobs who's getting to watch them."

Tara Thomson of Tuckerton said, "So they're going to be getting essentially half the instruction time they're getting now."

When asked what do you make of that? She said, "I'm not really happy about that."

Schools officials say classes won't resume until the roofing work is done. Parents and students are just glad classes will no longer be held in a construction zone.

High school junior Zachary Janda said, "I think it's better than being in the school with everything that's going on."

"There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. There are still going to be issues that arise, but we're a community and we'll come together," Caban said.

Stevenson says the students will receive the legally mandated minimum of four hours of instruction daily.

The roofing project was supposed to be completed in November, but Action News has learned that will not happen. Officials have not said when the school will reopen.

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