Philadelphia School District Unveils Plan for Environmental Hazards

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SCHOOL DIUSTRICT Superintendant Dr. William Hite

Yesterday evening, at the Board of Education Action Meeting, Dr. William R. Hite, superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia, outlined several actions the District will take to help enhance and support environmental safety in schools across the city.

In order to improve how the District supports safe and healthy schools, the School District will:

• Thoroughly review and strengthen environmental safety processes and practices, and openly share improvement plans with students, staff, families and the Philadelphia community;
• Engage the Philadelphia community in a deeper and more meaningful conversation about the presence of asbestos, lead and other potential environmental concerns in District buildings;
• Have candid conversations about the capacity of existing operations resources, and the additional resources needed to more proactively identify areas of concern;
• Proactively engage staff and families as partners to help develop contingency plans when needed;
• Provide regular, transparent communications about all major school construction projects;
• Continue to provide every School District engineer with Asbestos Awareness Training so they know how to identify and properly report areas of concern — and expand the training to all facilities and maintenance personnel and key school staff;
• Continue to conduct comprehensive visual inspections of each school twice per year to further identify and address issues;
• Continue to make information available on the School District’s website about the environmental conditions of schools, including the full Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act Report issued every three years, and expand information to include all environmental testing results; and
• Continue to conduct environmental testing, in compliance with AHERA and the Philadelphia Department of Health, after completing every construction job to ensure the area is safe for re-occupancy.

“There is nothing that we take more seriously than the health and safety of our students and staff,” said Dr. Hite. “I ask that we all work together for the benefit of children, families and staff, and that our funders help identify resources we can invest to improve school facilities. All of our children – no matter where they live or attend school – deserve safe and healthy learning environments.”

In the coming weeks and months, District leaders will collaboratively develop and share a plan on how they will improve environmental safety in schools.

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