The staff at the Franklin Learning Center reported at least 50 potential health hazards, including crumbling walls and damaged paint, in the last seven months on the teachers' union Healthy Schools tracker mobile app.
These images triggered the school district to start testing the building, leading to the discovery of asbestos on Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm like, it's in the air vent?" exclaimed Paulette West, a parent of a senior at FLC. "Now they're closing the school down because this, how they air condition and heat the school? So ya'll breathing this every single day for eight hours?"
.@PHLschools says Franklin Learning Center will reopen Jan. 2, 2020. They believe the rest of this week, plus the holiday break will give crews enough time to remediate their asbestos discovered in the schools air shaft that pumps heating and ac through the building @6abc pic.twitter.com/76VG3DDmMj— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) December 18, 2019
The asbestos was discovered at the bottom of an air shaft that provides heat to the entire building. Asbestos is a hazard when it's airborne.
"The concern is it could be picked up and distributed throughout the building as part of the heating system in the air," said Jerry Roseman, director of environmental science for the teachers union health and welfare fund.
FLC is closed until January. It joins a handful of schools to close this school year due to asbestos.
.@PFTLocal3: staff at Franklin Learning Center filed about 50 reports of potential health hazards at the school in the last 7 months on the union’s Healthy Schools tracker mobile app, triggering the district to test the building, leading to asbestos discovery Tuesday. @6abc pic.twitter.com/uPdaqugD8Q— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) December 18, 2019
Students have rallied at board meetings for safer learning conditions, and after a teacher was diagnosed with cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
"Our message is we will continue to investigate and inspect and make these repairs as quickly as possible," said Dr. William Hite, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.
On Wednesday, about 200 students, teachers and parents will join other advocates from around the state in Harrisburg to rally for safer learning environments as asbestos continues to be health hazard in classrooms.