By Holly Camero
Posted Feb 4, 2019 at 1:45 PM Updated Feb 4, 2019 at 1:45 PM
The “old wing” of Maynard’s Green Meadow School has been shut down for the remainder of the school year.
In a press release, Superintendent of Schools Robert Gerardi stated the 1950s-era section of the elementary school would remain closed so a licensed environmental contractor could remove old asbestos building materials.
The wing holds preschool and kindergarten classes, and was originally set to close at the start of February vacation. However, after several parents voiced concern, the district decided to close the wing immediately.
“We appreciate the feedback we received from our preschool and kindergarten families, and in hearing their concerns, we felt the most prudent course of action was to shut down the wing immediately,” Gerardi stated.
Preschool classes were canceled Feb. 4. Kindergarten and preschool classes will be moved to other parts of the building, including the gymnasium. At this time, the district is not considering moving students to other buildings.
The work is scheduled to start during February vacation and continue until summer.
High-quality air purifiers will also be installed in all the classrooms in the school in an effort to improve airflow and air quality throughout the building.
The asbestos is being removed after a roof leak caused damage to ceiling tiles in the old wing of the school. One classroom had already been shut down, and officials decided to remove all of the old ceiling tiles in that wing of the school and install a modern drop ceiling.
Initial repairs were made to the roof last year, and the school district will seek additional funds for roof repairs at the May annual Town Meeting.
Gerardi stressed this action is being taken out of an abundance of caution.
“We are aware of the age and state of the Green Meadow building, and we are aware of building materials and methods in the 1950s. What matters most is that, whether this building remains in operation for five more years or 50, we must do what we can to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Gerardi stated.
In recent months, Green Meadow School has been plagued with problems.
Last year, the district contacted the Department of Public Health to assess the building after mold and air quality concerns were raised.
In a Sept. 17, 2018 letter to parents, Gerardi wrote that after inspecting the school, the DPH had determined there was no public health hazard at the school.
Gerardi stated the DPH identified a couple of stained ceiling tiles in an office that were removed the same day.
In that letter, Gerardi wrote that in 2011 DPH inspected the building and issued several recommendations. The facilities director at that time addressed all of the recommendations in the report, Gerardi wrote. Wall-to-wall carpeting throughout the entire school was removed, and the uni-vent, plumbing and roofing systems were repaired as well.
There have been some recurring issues in some areas, requiring additional repairs, and additional roof repairs have been made when needed, Gerardi wrote.
Funding options are being explored to address the ongoing issues, he wrote.
The district also contracted with ASAP Environmental to conduct extensive air quality tests at Green Meadow School, Gerardi stated in September.
Green Meadow School was built in 1955 and additions were built in 1974 and 1988.