Lakeview Elementary, an Ocean View District school in California, recently reopened after being closed for two years due to asbestos removal from the school grounds.
Students and staff spent the last two years attending other campuses so the work could be completed safely. The school is reopening without asbestos and with new high-tech equipment and a focus on STEAM-based curriculum.
“It’s done. Lakeview is complete,” said Ocean View School District Board President Gina Clayton-Tarvin. “You cannot spare a dollar, you can’t spare any amount of money for the protection and the safety of children.”
Lakeview Elementary was not the only Ocean View District school to close in the fall of 2014. Two other schools, Hope View and Oak View, were also closed due to the discovery of asbestos fibers. The other two reopened a while ago, but Lakeview required a more thorough cleanup.
Not every school across the country was able to begin the year asbestos-free. Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Gary Cohn wrote about how “Back to School Could Mean Back to Asbestos for Many Students.”
Luckily, there are actions parents can take to protect their children. These include understanding the risk of asbestos exposure, knowing their child’s school’s responsibility under federal laws to protect against asbestos, and inspecting the school’s asbestos management plan.
Parents can also be persistent about seeing public records and asking questions of administrators, as well as seeking guidance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if danger is suspected.
“Just because a school contains materials with asbestos should not be reason for parents and caregivers to panic, but they should be understandably concerned,” said Alex Formuzis of the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Lakeview is located in the Los Alamitos, California area, which is home to the Joint Forces Training Base. Military members of the Army, Navy, National Guard, and Marines work there. The Los Alamitos Air Station is a known jobsite where asbestos exposure occurred.
Alamitos Steam Plant, Arrowhead Products, Edison Power Plant, Lost Alamitos Powerhouse, Los Alamitos Steam Plant, Los Alamitos Sugar Company, Merit Metal Corp, Southern California Edison Company, and Texaco Tank Farm are other known jobsites where, at one point in their history, were known to have exposed a variety of tradesmen to asbestos.
According to one parent at Lake View Elementary, “This school looks amazing. It’s really like being in a dream school.”