2 more Philadelphia schools will close due to asbestos issues

Previously, both schools were cleared of asbestos.

This story originally appeared on 6abc. 

Two more Philadelphia schools are closing due to asbestos issues, according to the School District of Philadelphia.

Parents were notified on Friday of the discovery of asbestos at Frankford High School and Mitchell Elementary.

Previously, both schools were cleared of asbestos.

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The elementary school released a statement online Friday morning to parents and staff. It discussed the next steps moving forward and where to find the latest information.

The high school also released a notice about the canceled classes on its website.

Frankford officials say the school will be closed Monday and classes will shift to virtual learning for at least the remainder of the week.

Mitchell students will not return to their building for the rest of the year, according to school officials.

Virtual instruction will begin for elementary students on Tuesday. Students will return to in-person instruction at an alternate location later this month.

“I have no clue what I’m going to do. This is, wow. I have no clue,” said Kisha Brooker from the Kingsessing neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Brooker has two girls at Mitchell Elementary who will have to start virtual learning next week.

She says organizing child care will be nearly impossible.

“Virtual learning is going to be hard, like I said I start a new job on Monday so this is the worst time for this to happen,” she told Action News.

She sees this situation as another major setback for her children’s education.

“Spring break goes by, now we’re getting prepared for the new school week, and now parents are lost,” she said.

The School District of Philadelphia released a statement on Friday reading in part:

The District recognizes this new information may understandably raise questions and concerns. It is not clear why the historic records contradict recent sampling results. Since the walls and ceilings had been documented as not containing asbestos, they had not been included in past AHERA inspections. However, they will be included in all instructions going forward.

As the District has previously shared, in the coming weeks and months, we continue to anticipate that more damaged asbestos will be identified. This is not an indication of the program failing, but rather the program is working to protect health and safety through the identification and management of environmental concerns. This improved inspection process – while revealing environmental hazards – is working as it should throughout the District.

District leaders are meeting throughout the weekend to finalize plans and will be updating school communities affected.

Philadelphia City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas also spoke out about the issue.

“At the end of the day, it’s a crisis, it’s an emergency. Our children are the core of who we are as a city and as a society, and what does it say about us?” he questioned.

Thomas is the current chair of the City Council’s Education Committee. He said that estimates show it’s going to cost $5 billion to upgrade the city’s schools to be where they need to be.

Getting the funding necessary from the state won’t happen until there’s a concrete plan.

“For us to go to Harrisburg, and basically ask Harrisburg to put a significant down payment on the facilities crisis that we’re facing, we have to tell them exactly what we plan to do with the money,” said Thomas.

There is no word yet on where Mitchell Elementary students will have the option to go next.

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