Thanks to those con­cerned

Journal Pioneer - - EDITORIAL -

As a par­ent of a stu­dent at Three Oaks Senior High School (TOSH), I want to sin­cerely thank the teach­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tion, cus­to­di­ans, con­struc­tion man­agers and trades­peo­ple who have con­sis­tently strived to keep the health and safety of stu­dents as the top pri­or­ity through­out the school ren­o­va­tion. My kids have at­tended schools in Summerside and as they have pro­gressed through the sys­tem, I have never doubted the staff putting the needs of our chil­dren first. Sim­ply put, they treat our kids as their own. I have the ut­most con­fi­dence that the staff would ad­vo­cate for our chil­dren if ever in harm’s way. This ex­pan­sive ren­o­va­tion in­cludes 25 new class­rooms, a new li­brary, a new mu­sic and band room, and much more. There is a biomass heat in­stal­la­tion for en­ergy ef­fi­cient heat­ing, up­graded roof­ing, and a brand new, state-of-the-art ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem. The trans­for­ma­tion of this build­ing, since my time there as a stu­dent in the mid 1980s, has been in­cred­i­ble.

It is un­for­tu­nate that two or three peo­ple con­tinue to at­tempt to spread fear in our school com­mu­nity about the health and safety of stu­dents, even now that the con­struc­tion process is largely com­plete.

Two years ago, there was an iso­lated in­ci­dent in­volv­ing the re­moval of misiden­ti­fied as­bestos-con­tain­ing ceil­ing tiles near a load­ing dock – in an area away from stu­dent spa­ces. The is­sue was no­ticed im­me­di­ately, the area was tested, sealed and a haz­ardous ma­te­rial abate­ment pro­to­col was put in place. Since that day, there have been no as­bestos-re­lated is­sues at TOSH.

I know that safety was the first topic of dis­cus­sion at ev­ery con­struc­tion meet­ing (over 85 to date). An ad-hoc com­mit­tee was formed so par­ents and school rep­re­sen­ta­tives could meet with the con­struc­tion man­ager and en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­perts on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. This was to make sure not only our chil­dren were safe, but to make sure the school staff and con­trac­tors were safe I un­der­stand ev­ery­one re­sponds dif­fer­ently to en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions. Stu­dents were given the op­por­tu­nity to trans­fer to nearby schools if they felt their health was im­pacted. I be­lieve two stu­dents opted for a trans­fer and I am happy the school was able to ac­com­mo­date this re­quest.

Re­moval of all haz­ardous ma­te­rial was com­pleted suc­cess­fully and safely last sum­mer.

Air qual­ity test­ing was done on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and shared pub­licly, with hun­dreds of pages of test re­sults listed on our gov­ern­ment web­site. Hun­dreds of pages of in­for­ma­tion was also re­leased to ap­pli­cants, through Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quests.

Most im­por­tantly, our province’s Chief Pub­lic Health Of­fi­cer re­viewed the en­tire con­struc­tion process at TOSH and found no con­cerns re­lated to as­bestos af­fect­ing stu­dent health. Dr. Mor­ri­son clearly stated that even the in­ad­ver­tent is­sue with the ceil­ing tiles in March 2017 did not pose a short or long-term health risk to stu­dents.

I do not know the mo­ti­va­tions of those who con­tinue to in­ac­cu­rately state any­thing else. Their claims are not sup­ported by fac­tual ev­i­dence. What I do know is that the lead­er­ship shown by the staff at TOSH is not only top-notch, but trans­par­ent and has the best in­ter­ests of stu­dents in mind.

The stu­dents are thriv­ing at their newly ren­o­vated school. I deeply ap­pre­ci­ate the school staff who are mak­ing TOSH a bet­ter place for our kids. I thank ev­ery­one who shows up – ev­ery day – to help our school com­mu­nity and ac­tively demon­strate that they are truly con­cerned about the well-be­ing of our kids.

Chris Palmer, par­ent of Three Oaks Senior High stu­dent

MLA for District 21: Summerside-Wil­mot

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