Alfredo Andrews Students Complain of Irritant

Numerous Alfredo Andrews Elementary School students were taken home by their parents Thursday, complaining of itching eyes, skin and throats, according to several reports.

The school was closed Wednesday after winds blew off a vent, damaging the school, but classes resumed Thursday. In a statement, St. Croix Federation of Teachers President Rosa Soto-Thomas said many people experienced discomfort.

“It is also reported by school personnel that a vast amount of mold is constantly present at this site because of leaky roofs and the aged structure itself,” she said.

Soto-Thomas said, “Testing should take place as soon as possible to determine if the irritant is fiberglass or asbestos to ascertain what type of remediation is necessary.”

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Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen issued a statement saying her office received many phone calls from parents saying their children were getting rashes and other symptoms. She said school authorities told her the issues stemmed from the recent strong winds that lifted the vent off the roof of the St. Croix school, causing debris and what some described as the presents of fiberglass.

Hansen said she was “concerned with the safety of our children and support staff at the school,” but she thanked St. Croix Schools Superintendent Colleen Williams for being willing to assist and meet with her and for responding quickly. Hansen said Williams called on inspectors and private companies to clean up the school and contacted OSHA and the teachers union.

Calls to the Department of Education for comment were not returned as of 10 p.m. Thursday. The Department of Education released a statement Thursday afternoon saying classes at Alfredo Andrews will take place on a normal schedule Friday and all public schools in the territory are open.

Meanwhile, reports of a roof collapse at Elena Christian Jr. High School due to heavy overnight winds on Tuesday turned out to be untrue, according to the Department of Education. Elena Christian remained in full session Wednesday and there was no damage to the school’s facilities. (See Related Links)

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