Weeks after storm, Long Beach middle school reopens
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He went on to explain the process by which workers have been cleaning and repairing the buildings. Safety is top greatest concern, he said, and the district follows a strict protocol for readying the buildings for use. “The protocol that is used is not the same protocol that many people are using in their houses, which is rip it out and pile it up on the sidewalk,” he said.
The damage in each building was assessed room by room. District officials determined where there was water inundation, and how each area needed to be fixed. Anything that absorbed water had to be disposed of, while things that were only brushed by water could be sanitized and salvaged. Any wet area that contained asbestos had to be gutted. Environmental consultants were on hand to supervise and make sure everything was done according to regulations.
One parent who addressed the board expressed concerns over classroom air quality. He said his son had asthma issues during the reconstruction at Lindell School, and he wanted to know whether classrooms at the Lido Complex would have good air quality, even while construction is being done in other parts of the building.
“If you have people in hazmat suits in part of the building, how do you cordon off the useful areas?” he asked.
The district’s chief operating officer, Michael DeVito, explained that the highly specific protocol they must follow when cleaning out the schools extends to maintaining good air quality in the buildings. Sections are cordoned off with plastic and other “environmental barriers.” Air-filtration systems regulate air pressure and ensure that no airborne particles are transferred to occupied spaces. And asbestos is never removed while students are in the building.
DeVito added that air quality tests were conducted before students were allowed back into buildings, and those tests will continue throughout the reconstruction process. The results are available to the public, he said.
“I appreciate the herculean efforts,” the parent said. “I would just ask you to be extra vigilant.”