School disrupted by asbestos accident to be closed until Dec.

Pupils to attend other sites while rehab is done

October 06, 2001|By Stephanie Desmon | Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

The 1950s building that houses Hawthorne Elementary School - closed all week after a construction accident spilled asbestos fibers into the air - will remain closed until December, giving workers enough time to finish the $2.6 million renovation project out of the way of children.

The more than 450 pupils at the school in Middle River will miss another week of classes, returning on Oct. 15. But they won't be going back to the Kingston Road building. Instead, they will be sent to two other, as yet unnamed, schools in eastern Baltimore County.

The extra week of unplanned vacation time will allow teachers to pack up their classrooms and move them to other schools, said school system spokeswoman Sharon Norman.

A meeting to explain the specifics to parents - where the students will be housed, how they will get there, whether they will have to make up two lost weeks of class time - will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Middlesex Elementary School. Buses will be available to transport parents from Hawthorne to Middlesex at 6:30 p.m.

Potentially hazardous fibers were released the night of Sept. 28 when a worker cut a pipe he didn't know was coated with asbestos while renovating a bathroom off the school's main lobby. Cleaning ensued, as did a week of air testing to ensure it was safe to breathe. The air is now clean, officials said, but they didn't want to risk another problem.

With the doors closed, the work that had been done at night and on weekends will resume full time, officials said.

"If I was a parent there, I'd rather have the inconvenience than put [the children] back in the school where there could be the possibility of having something happen," said Laura Nossel, president of the county's PTA Council. "I worry when children are put in jeopardy. I'm glad something like this didn't happen during the [school] day."

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