Parents and teachers of Public School 29 on Henry Street have become increasingly concerned about a major construction project which started on the building in March.
Though crews do not start work until the children leave the building at 3 PM, it goes on through the night. In the morning, a layer of dust has settled inside the school.
What is concerning parents and children even more is that on Friday, parents found out that asbestos removal will start tonight. They are rightfully angry that they have not received enough warning.
By law, the School Construction Authority should have posted warning signs announcing the asbestos removal seven days before the beginning of abatement. As of this morning, not one sign has gone up.
As one parent told me: "We are not saying that this is an actual danger to the children. What we are saying is that if corners are being cut and proper procedures are not followed, there are some real concerns."
Another father wrote to tell me:
"Due to lack of proper communications, parents have been ill-informed about what's happening when. Students have lost most of their playground, the school has become dusty on the inside, and of course -- danger at the school has increased. Only this past Friday (two days ago) did we parents learn that asbestos removal work is planned for this coming Monday night.
Several parents I've spoken with are considering not sending their kids to school as a result of the asbestos work.
A petition has been started a few days ago asking the Mayor to issue a stop work order at PS 29 until summer vacation. The petition also asks for changes to codes when it comes to constructions and repair in city schools. Why do laws allow for work that presents potential for harm to children (and teachers, and administrators) to be done when school is in session?"
The petition reads:
Issue "Stop Work" order at PS 29 and guarantee air safety in all NYC schools.PS 29 is an old building and needs work. With very little warning, construction began this March. Beginning a week or two ago, thick amounts of dust began to appear. The principal documented the degree of dust in a cell phone photo she took of a window sill. (Last month another parent witnessed a construction worker walking down the stairs -- in between young children -- carrying a large circular saw with blades exposed.)A construction zone such as the one PS 29 has become is no place for children. Unless authorities can unequivocally guarantee the absolute safety of the environment, work should not proceed during times of the year when school is in session.Following 9/11 FEMA first said that the air was safe enough to breathe -- but we know it wasn't.This petition represents a formal request by the PS 29 community to cease all construction work at the school until the summer break. We also request that the Mayor’s Office conduct an transparent review of policies concerning repair of schools in the CIty of New York. Policy ought to reflect the highest standards of safety for children (and teachers and administrators) in schools across the city. Therefore, we request that the city push enact changes to the rules of school construction and repairs in order to protect children in all possible ways.Parents are organizing a demonstration in front of the school tonight at 5:30 PM. and over 1100 fliers were handed out this morning.
One really has to wonder why the School Construction Authority planned this work during test week and not during Spring break two weeks ago.