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GIRARD SCHOOLS Health department OKs opening



Published: Wed, August 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The school administration is trying to relieve the concerns of parents.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- The Ohio Department of Health says Prospect Elementary School is safe to open, at least for now.

The ODH came to the conclusion in a letter to Superintendent Joseph Shoaf Monday. Classes will begin Tuesday in the district.

In an effort to relieve parents' concerns about the building, the letter was circulated by the school administration before the school board meeting Tuesday night.

"Therefore, at this time, there is no evidence to support the conclusion that the school should not be occupied," wrote John Gayetsky, an ODH engineer and occupational hygienist.

"While various maintenance issues have been identified and addressed at the Prospect Elementary School, the observations and measurements performed to date by the Girard Health Department and by Clayton Group Services have revealed no serious health hazards at the school," Gayetsky wrote.

Clayton is an Akron-based environmental consultant.

About 50 parents of Prospect pupils have filed a lawsuit that asks the Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to keep Prospect closed because of their concerns the children will become ill.

What happened: Both Girard Intermediate and Prospects schools were closed May 1 by the board, but Prospect reopened three days later. The intermediate and Prospect schools are attached.

When school resumes next Tuesday, the intermediate school will remain closed with pupils going to Tod Woods Intermediate School, and the junior-senior high building.

The school administration also circulated a May 3 letter to the district from James Dobson, deputy city health commissioner.

"Prospect Elementary School has been sealed off and isolated from the intermediate school. It has been cleaned and disinfected two times. There are no legitimate reasons for keeping the elementary school closed at this time," Dobson wrote.

Richard Ragozine, school board president, said there are no plans to do any more environmental tests at Prospect.

Questions answered: During questioning by parents, David Leo, intermediate school principal, said pupils at Tod Woods will not have access to computers and there will be "some" hot lunches. And, there will be no library access.

"We'll make the best with what we have at this time," Leo said, noting "the staff will make it work."

The board's lawyer, Lou Damiani of Cleveland, told parents the school district can't be responsible for children who get a cough, upset stomach or flu.

"We can't be held responsible for everybody's illness," Damiani asserted, adding no physician has made a link between any school buildings and illnesses.

Concerning the intermediate school that will remain closed, Shoaf explained the carpeting and duct work have been removed from one room.

When the new ventilation system is installed and if the room tests environmentally safe, similar work will be done in other rooms, Shoaf said.

"We'll go in when it's done," the superintendent added.

yovich@vindy.com




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