Parents of students at Summer Hill Public School received a startling letter from the school’s administration after the first day after summer break, which warned them that asbestos might be present on the children’s playground.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that students at the primary school are no longer allowed to play on the field until the the New South Wales Department of Education performs a more in-depth investigation.
School principal Karen Shehata informed parents that on the first day of classes, fibro had been found scattered throughout the dirt where the children play. She added that the Department of Education’s next move is to bring in a hygienist who can test the bits of material for asbestos.
In the letter, Ms Shehata stated that once the department gives her the full report, she will make a decision on the next steps the school can take to keep kids safe.
The fibro made its way onto the field when maintenance crews seeded the playground during the summer break. Fortunately, this has helped create a solid covering of grass over the potentially contaminated soil, the principal asserted.
Taking precautions until further notice
The school said it is taking every possible measure to keep students safe from asbestos exposure, which is the direct cause of several serious lung diseases, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
Ms Shehata said that until an investigation finds that the playground is free of asbestos, she will stagger lunchtimes so that there are fewer students on the playground at any given time, making it easier for them to avoid the potentially contaminated areas.
“I anticipate that this will meet the needs of our students until the grassed area is fit and safe to be once again played on,” she wrote in the letter.
Even though this is a very serious issue, students’ parents say the school is handling the situation extremely well, especially considering what is at stake. The National Health and Medical Research Council states that asbestosis is a grave concern throughout the country.
The disease, which causes a scarring of the lungs, makes a person’s airways so inflamed that oxygen can no longer pass into the lungs and further into the blood.
Anyone who believes they have come into contact with the fibrous mineral may want to consult asbestos lawyers, as legal compensation may be possible.