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Hempstead High School classroom closed for asbestos remediation

Hempstead High School on Jan. 2, 2018.

Hempstead High School on Jan. 2, 2018. Credit: Barry Sloan

A music classroom at Hempstead High School was closed off for environmental remediation this week after flooding affected the room’s ceiling tiles and “slight asbestos” was discovered, Acting Superintendent Regina Armstrong said Thursday.

A problem with a radiator in an adjacent garage area led to flooding that spread to the ceiling above the classroom. Maintenance workers were repairing ceiling tiles Tuesday afternoon when they noticed wrapping of some of the insulated pipes’ joints, she said in an interview.

The district called in the environmental remediation firm J.C. Broderick & Associates of Hauppauge, which found “slight asbestos” in the pipework, Armstrong said.

Initial air quality tests passed state and federal guidelines for airborne asbestos. More tests were scheduled Thursday night.

“No staff or student was exposed to asbestos,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said the room was being sanitized, with instruments wiped down, as a precaution. Band uniforms are being professionally dry-cleaned.

The impact on students was limited because of an altered schedule this week during administration of state Regents tests. A class in that room scheduled for Friday will be held in the auditorium.

The classroom is expected to reopen on Monday, Armstrong said.

A letter about the situation was posted on the district’s website Thursday afternoon and robo-calls were sent to district residents.

A Jan. 8 report from Jack Bierwirth, the state-appointed “Distinguished Educator” charged with assessing district operations, highlighted years of failing infrastructure in the Hempstead system.

The high school and two other schools were temporarily closed earlier this month because of burst pipes or limited heat.

Armstrong said the troubles are “part of the ongoing piping issues that we’re having in the district.” She added that officials are working to conduct “a full top-to-bottom assessment of our schools . . . and we’ll use their findings to drive what we have to do under the Distinguished Educator’s report.”

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