Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Central parents vent frustrations over closed school

Parents of children enrolled at the now-closed Central Elementary School in Sylvania last night voiced frustration that there are no immediate plans for the relocation of the students.

The school, which has about 600 students, was closed yesterday because of rashes and other ailments some of the students have developed since the beginning of the school year.

Ilise Shafransky said her three children enrolled at the school have voiced concern about their uncertain state.

“They don't know where they'll be going - if they'll be with their friends. It's upsetting,” she said.

School officials admitted that they don't know either.

Cynthia Durdel, assistant superintendent of Sylvania schools, told a crowd of about 350 at Southview High School that a committee will begin today to seek an alternate site for the children. She added that it is her hope that the children will be in class Monday.

She said, however, that the committee will have to consider a building that can accommodate nearly 600 children, as well as the availability of rest rooms, food service, telephones, and the transportation of the children.

Mrs. Shafransky said she understands the problem facing administrators, but added that parents are frustrated because “we're not getting clear-cut answers.

“We get a sense that [school officials are] not organized and I don't know what's going on.”

But she conceded that she believes that the administration seems to be doing its best to correct an unexpected problem.

Jack Smith, principal of Timberstone Junior High School who will head the committee, said the problem is “very complex and will take a cooperative effort from everyone.”

He said that in 24 years as a school principal he's never faced a similar problem.

Nancy Crandell, a spokeswoman for the school district, said that over the last few weeks tentative efforts have been made to locate a possible site, “but there is nothing simple.”

The school system didn't make a concerted effort earlier because, until late Monday, administrators had been told there was no need to close the school at Central Avenue and King Road.

In early September, not long after school opened, some children began to exhibit rashes, sores, and other signs of skin irritation.

Between 10 and 20 children have shown symptoms of irritation on a daily basis over the last few weeks, school officials said.

Mrs. Shafransky said her daughter, Ruthie, a fifth grader, has developed a rash on five or six occasions that were increasingly severe.

Ms. Durdel said she was told Monday afternoon that several molds and potential irritants are in the building and she recommended to the board of education that the children be relocated.

Last night, she said the recommendation to close the school was based primarily on ensuring the safety and health of children, teachers, and staff, and added that more invasive testing of the building will be necessary.

Dr. Imran Andrabi, director of Mercy Health Partners' family practice residency program, said he has two sons who are students at Central Elementary and said that although the molds and irritants have been identified, there should be a determination of how long some of the children have been exposed.

Dr. Andrabi said the level of toxins and length of exposure could have long-term consequences for some children.

Ms. Durdel said that seven rooms were closed in mid-September after possible irritants were identified, and the rest of the school closed because the need for more investigation would disrupt the learning environment.

Ms. Durdel apologized for not being able to inform parents earlier about the school's closing.

She said she knew some parents were surprised when the school bus didn't arrive yesterday morning, as were others who took their children to school and found it closed.

Ms. Durdel said that tests are continuing and will become more extensive as environmentalists begin to look under carpeting, at ceiling tiles, and other parts of the building.

She said there can be no estimate now as to what those tests will conclude, and “we may never have all the answers.”

The assistant superintendent said she expects Central Elementary to reopen, but not before tests are completed, remediation is accomplished, and the entire building is retested for anything that might be harmful.

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