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Locker Room Renovations Force District to Scramble

Plainview-JFK discovers asbestos hidden behind old lockers; working around the issue; kids are safe.

A problem lurking for years and hidden behind gym lockers at High School is forcing school administrators and athletes to scramble during the first weeks of school.

, the district's director of school facilities and operations, told Plainview's that planned renovations of the high school gym and pool locker rooms revealed asbestos in paint chips hidden for decades behind the lockers.

The old lockers were being removed and replaced when the discovery was made, she said. The high school's physical education locker rooms, team locker rooms and pool locker rooms for both girls and boys are under renovation.

Asbestos mitigation is routine when work is done on buildings built in the 1960s, when asbestos was used widely in construction.

There was no way to anticipate this type of asbestos could have lingered in cinder blocks behind the old lockers, Parahus said. The district has hired an abatement consultant, which is required by state and federal law, to find safe ways to remove the material. That work is proceding now.

To accommodate gym classes and student athletes, the district is using an exercise room and several classrooms as make-shift changing areas while the work continues.

The asbestos poses no hazard to the students. In fact, student athletes preparing for fall sports are using separate entrance ways in order to avoid any contact with the exposed area, Parahus said. Football practice has already begun.

And, the district is encouraging students to leave valuables and money at home. School officials are making arrangements for the safe-keeping of valuable items that are brought to school.

School officials are hopeful the costs related to the unforeseen work can be kept to a minimum.

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