Asbestos forces two more Philadelphia schools to close

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The School District of Philadelphia announced more schools are temporarily closing due to asbestos.

The latest two schools to close are Clara Barton Elementary in Feltonville and James J. Sullivan Elementary in Wissinoming. They will be closed Thursday and Friday. Monday is President's Day, so the schools were already off.

"I probably won't be sending her back next week," exclaimed concerned Sullivan parent, Renata Alexander.

Alexander continued, "We got a phone call last night, letting us know our children could not come to school for the next two days due to asbestos."

On Thursday afternoon, the teachers union will join elected officials to renew their call for Governor Tom Wolf to declare a state of emergency in Philadelphia schools.

This isn't the first time in recent months that Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan has demanded more state funding to fix toxic schools.

For Governor Wolf's part, he proposed a $1 billion plan for asbestos and lead remediation in his annual budget proposal last week, but the budget dance is really just beginning among lawmakers.

As for Barton and Sullivan Elementary Schools, officials say damaged asbestos was found during recent inspections in both buildings.

"It needs to be solved quickly and the problems not going to be apparent now, it's going to be when she's older, that's she's having problems with this," said Sullivan parent Samiyyah Jordan referring to her daughter.

Bus service for students at both schools will be suspended on these days.

Staff from Barton will report to Feltonville Intermediate School at 238 E. Wyoming Ave.

Staff from Sullivan will report to Frankford High School, located at 5000 Oxford Ave.

Grab and go breakfast and lunches were available for students on Thursday morning. The meals will again be available on Friday morning from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Barton students can pick them up at Feltonville Intermediate School and Sullivan students can pick them up at Harding Middle School.

The School District said further testing and inspections will take place to ensure the buildings are safe for reoccupancy.

"Most of these buildings have asbestos containing materials in them. We've been doing periodic checks to see that the status is of air quality and things of that nature, and as we discover any imminent hazards or work that needs to be done, we make the decisions to close, contain areas, or relocate students as possible," according to School District Spokesperson Monica Lewis.

Families are urged to monitor the District website for updated information.
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