‘Asbestos Concerns’ Closes 2 St. Louis Park Schools

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Two metro area schools were closed for the day and will stay closed Tuesday because of asbestos concerns.

St. Louis Park Junior and Senior High Schools closed Monday morning as a precaution because of asbestos in floor tiles, according to the district. The schools are across town from each other but the problems are similar.

School officials are worried about large floor tiles wearing through and exposing their asbestos backs in office areas of both schools. So, Monday morning they sent that students, grades 7-12, home for the day.

“We had a concern related to a floor tile that had been deteriorated based on salt and sand from winter rolling under a desk chair,” said Sara Thompson, Communication Specialist for the St. Louis Park Schools.

The tile is at least 8 feet square and located near the school nurses office in the high school. Staffers noticed it over the weekend, the area was blocked off and after it was tested Monday morning, students were sent home.

Thompson says the district has not had asbestos problems in the past.

“It actually had me really nervous and scared this morning,” said Precious Johnson, who has sons in both schools.

“Oh, I’m concerned,” said Craig Dalessio, while picking up his son at the junior high. “I don’t think there should be asbestos in the school. I mean, that should have been taken care of years ago.”

The district says the both the senior high and the junior high will remain closed on Tuesday. They said additional information will be sent to families.

“They said some chemicals are producing dust and it’s not good for our health. So we had to be evacuated out of the building for today and tomorrow,” said high school student Confort.

Both tiles were being tested Monday. After the results are known, remediation will be planned and the schools reopened.

“The tiles aren’t a problem until they are in some way broken or deteriorated,” said Thompson. “When they’re encased, fully-functional, they are not a health risk at all.”

After-school and evening activities at both the junior and senior high were canceled. Employees from both schools have been asked to work from home.

The district’s offices, which are located in the senior high building, are being relocated along with the school board meeting that will be held Monday night.

Students WCCO Radio talked with were trying to figure out plans for the next couple days.

“Study for my test coming up, and see where it goes from there,” said senior Chris. “They had to cancel our weightlifting program, but they still have basketball practice at another high school.”

“Hang out with some friends, I guess,” said another student.

AUDIO: Message From St. Louis Park Public Schools

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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