Two more Philadelphia schools are now closed due to asbestos.
Simon Gratz High School Mastery Charter and Gratz Prep Middle School were shut down for the day on Wednesday for routine inspections and testing, which led to the discovery of damaged asbestos.
Mastery Charter Schools released a statement saying, “While we were unaware of the existence of these conditions prior to the inspections, the safety of our students and staff is our primary concern.”
Simon Gratz now joins Building 21 in West Oak Lane for schools closed due to this cancer-causing mineral.
Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Dr. Tony Watlington admitted that the district knew about asbestos exposure at Building 21 for nearly 2 years or possibly longer.
“We’re not sure how large of an area, or how many square feet this involves. We don’t know for sure but we can tell you that the lack of knowledge on our part is due to the historic underfunding of schools and the repairing of schools in the district,” said Monique Braxton, spokesperson for the School District of Philadelphia.
The unsettling news is sparking a series of questions from parents, concerned for the health of their children.
“Do they know about all the other buildings in the schools? It’s a little concerning,” said parent Shaneka Lewis.
Students at building 21 have been relocated to Strawberry Mansion High School as the remediation process continues.
“The hope is sometime next week Building 21 can go to virtual learning,” said Braxton.
Only 21 of the more than 360 students who are enrolled at Building 21 attended in person at Strawberry Mansion High Wednesday.