Toxins in Air Prompt Relocation of Hartford Students

Students and staff at Clark Elementary School in Hartford will be relocated to different schools starting Monday after concerns about air quality revealed low levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. 

Supt. Beth Shiavino-Narvaez said students and staff are being moved as a precaution while officials conduct additional tests to determine the source of the PBCs.

“Given that the testing process involves contractors working at various locations around the school, we believe that this would have been disruptive to the educational setting,” school officials said in a statement Friday. “As such, we made the determination that it was in the best interest of students and staff, with an abundance of caution, to temporarily relocate to alternate school sites. We made this determination as soon as we received the air quality results.”

The superintendent said concerns came to light during preparations to install a new sprinkler system at the Clark School.

Results from air samples taken on Dec. 19 came back on Dec. 24 and revealed the presence of PCBs at a rate of 194 nanograms per cubic meter of air to 223 nanograms per cubic meter of air, school officials said. All tested dust samples came back with zero trace of PCBs.

After the initial tests, school officials vented the building, at the recommendation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and tests conducted Jan. 5 revealed samples ranging from 52 to 571 nanograms per cubic meter of air.

"Our information is that this is not levels that would be harmful to students," explained David Medina, a spokesperson for the Hartford school system. "We're just taking extreme caution to make sure everything is OK."

Classes will be moved to the following sites:

  • Students in Pre-K through grade 3 will resume classes at the Museum Academy at the Fred D. Wish School, 350 Barbour Street.
  • Students in grades 4 through 8 will be housed in the Journalism and Media Academy at 150 Tower Avenue.
  • The two ABA classrooms will be relocated to Simpson Waverly School, 55 Waverly Street.

Any child who receives transportation services will continue to receive bus transportation from his or her current pick-up location to and from the new school site. Students who walk to the Clark School will be transported to and from the Clark School and the new site.

After-school programs with the Village for Families and Children will be held at the new sites and students enrolled in after school programming will receive transportation services either to Clark School or to their regular bus stop, according to the school system.

School officials are arranging to meet with families at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 10 at the Salvation Army offices at 100 Nelson Street.

For more information, parents can contact the Welcome Center at 860-695-8400.

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