Another Philadelphia school building has closed this week due to damaged asbestos, adding to a growing crisis that Board of Education President Reginald Streater said last weekend “has been a hundred years in the making.”
Students at C.W. Henry Elementary School in Mount Airy — which Streater’s children attend — didn’t attend in-person classes Monday and will be learning virtually through May 5 after inspectors found flaking asbestos in some plaster ceiling tiles.
C.W. Henry is the fourth Philadelphia public school building to close in recent weeks due to problems with asbestos. Inspectors found asbestos-containing plaster in Building 21, Simon Gratz Mastery Charter High School, Frankford High School, and Mitchell Elementary School.
As the district re-inspects some of the oldest school buildings in the city, Superintendent Tony Watlington has said repeatedly that more schools will likely be in need of remediation and a series of building shutdowns may be coming.
Streater said in a Saturday text message to Chalkbeat that he “sympathizes” with the C.W. Henry school community, and said “decades upon decades of disinvestment” has led to the district’s current issues.
Streater also said the school board and the district are “working to repair relationships” with the broader school community and are “rebuilding a district that was pulled apart limb by limb.”
Chalkbeat would like to hear from Philadelphia students, parents and educators. How has asbestos affected your educational experience in Philadelphia?
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Carly Sitrin is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Philadelphia. Contact Carly at email@example.com.
Dale Mezzacappa is a senior writer for Chalkbeat Philadelphia, where she covers K-12 schools and early childhood education in Philadelphia. Contact Dale at firstname.lastname@example.org.