August 2, 2018
As you know, we have been working with environmental consultants under the direction of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to conduct additional air quality testing at the high school.
Yesterday, the DEP confirmed for us that the latest round of testing came back negative for elevated levels of Trichloroethylene (TCE). This is good news, obviously, and it tells us that we have been taking the right steps, under DEP’s direction, to mitigate the exposure detected in the original test results.
But we are not done. We want to be 100% sure there are no remaining or ongoing issues in any of our school buildings before the students and staff return later this month.
As a precautionary measure, we will continue to work with our consultants and the DEP to conduct further testing in the high school, middle school and elementary school buildings to identify any potential issues and immediately address them. We will keep you informed as we receive further results.
I want to reemphasize that the DEP has consistently stated that the slightly elevated levels detected in the original testing did not pose a health hazard to students or staff. Their guidelines are what drives remediation and further testing, so you can be assured the DEP has found no cause for concern to the health of the students or staff.
We understand you may still have concerns and questions. We have scheduled a parent meeting for August 15 at 7:00 pm at the high school. We hope you can attend.
We have been working around the clock on this issue since we were first informed in July of the elevated levels. It has been our highest priority this summer. Since our original email on July 3, we have been anxious to share additional information, but we needed to have information to share. This type of environmental testing takes time and we were awaiting results from the DEP.
In case you missed the email we sent out Tuesday, July 31, we are reposting it below and we are also posting updates on our website (https://www.akfcs.org/) and the Official Facebook page of Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School. (https://www.facebook.com/Abby-Kelley-Foster-Charter-Public-School-177121133085195/)
It continues to be our priority to keep you informed and we will provide updates throughout the process.
We look forward to starting the new school year the week of August 20!
Board of Trustees, Chair
July 31, 2018 AKF Update:
In early July, Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School received notice from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that air quality sampling in our high school building detected slightly elevated levels of Trichloroethylene (TCE) in non-classroom storage, loading dock space and one classroom.
The testing was conducted as part of an environmental review after Saint Gobain Abrasives, Inc. detected a petroleum-related release on their property, which abuts the high school property. In consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Public Health (DPH), the City of Worcester’s Inspectional services, and an independent environmental consultant, AKFCS took numerous steps to address the issue, and we are waiting on the results of the latest round of testing.
The DEP assured us from the beginning that none of the readings posed a threat to the health and safety of our students or staff, and that all activities, including summer programming and annual summer maintenance work within the building, could continue.
Out of an abundance of caution, however, the AKFCS administration and Board decided to undertake a thorough review of the high school building. In addition, although no evidence surfaced regarding issues with the elementary and middle school buildings, we also conducted testing in those facilities.
To conduct these tests and identify any issues, the school hired an independent Licensed Site Professional (LSP), which sends its sealed testing equipment to an independent lab, which then reports all results to the DEP.
The administration and the Board were aggressive in addressing any issues brought to our attention, no matter how small.
We want to assure parents that the school’s water supply was in no way impacted as a result of this incident. The school's water is supplied through the City of Worcester's water system, which is tested regularly by the city, and has not been impacted. The school also tests the water inside the building as required by the state.
We took these proactive steps as a precaution to ensure the health and safety of our students, teachers, staff, and parents. We will continue to work with the DEP, DPH and the City of Worcester to ensure the air throughout the building meets all quality standards and we will continue to keep the community informed as we get closer to the start of the new school year. We will also be holding a parent forum on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 at 7PM in the high school.
We look forward to starting the new school year at the end of August!
Enjoy the last few weeks of summer.
Brian Haas Heidi Paluk
Executive Director Board of Trustee, Chair
Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director