116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The students at Prairie Crest Elementary will get one extra day of winter break while workers rid the College Community school of “any remaining asbestos exposed during construction.”
A letter the district sent Wednesday to Prairie Crest families said the district learned last week about the asbestos release that dated back to construction work in the building in June.
The letter stated a contractor removing the carpet did not abate asbestos within the carpet glue before removing it. It was discovered by an asbestos consultant who was doing an annual asbestos inspection.
Once the district was notified, the letter states, the building was closed and the proper agencies alerted. Four air samples were taken in the hallways where the glue was found, and three returned negative for asbestos fibers. One sample was positive and the amount of asbestos in this sample was unable to be determined.
Samples were taken again Monday in the same four areas. The results of these tests were all clear, with no asbestos detected, according to the district.
In a Thursday letter to families, district officials said Prairie Crest students will have Monday off school. On Tuesday, the Prairie Crest students and staff will be assigned to other schools on the campus along 76th Avenue SW.
Though the students will be in different schools, they will stay with their classroom teachers and classmates.
The building may not be ready for occupancy again until Jan. 9, but the date is uncertain. The district expects to send families a final plan no later than Sunday.
Crews are working double shifts at the school so students and staff can return to the school as soon as possible, district officials stated.
“The district will continue to diligently investigate this construction-related issue as we respond to the needs and questions of students and families,” the letter states.
District officials are collaborating with the Department of Natural Resources, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the district asbestos contractor to determine the cause, responsibility and potential exposure of students and staff to the asbestos, according to the letter to parents.
A statement from the district said officials have shared everything they know at this point.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asbestos “is a dangerous substance and should be avoided,” but the risk of developing health problems after contact depends on factors such as length and extent of exposure. Asbestos exposure may increase the risk of certain cancers, including lung cancer and mesothelioma malignant tumors.
People concerned about asbestos exposure should visit their doctor or other medical provider to determine whether additional testing is needed, the CDC advises.
“The health and safety of our staff and students is our top priority,” the district’s letter states. “We are also focused on supporting impacted staff and families with more information as this situation develops.”
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