Dear Abingdon Families and Staff,
Many of you have asked for more information about the improper handling of asbestos by the contractors at Abingdon that resulted in the school’s closure on Wednesday. We understand your concerns, and want to assure you that the safety of students and staff was our highest priority at all times. We also want to provide additional details in an effort to be as transparent as possible about the decisions that were made by APS.
On Tuesday at approximately 11 a.m., the APS Asbestos Manager visited the construction site, and discovered that asbestos material was being dumped outside of the building in the work zone. He immediately stopped work in the area; covered the area where materials were disposed; and secured the door to the area. He then contacted the asbestos consultants on the project and notified APS Facilities administration.
APS Facilities staff verified that the affected areas remained contained and secured. As a further precaution, the principal was directed to issue a “shelter in place” notice until the asbestos remediation experts arrived on site shortly thereafter. The asbestos professionals do not believe there were any threats to the students inside or outside of the building. As a precaution, they recommended that people be kept a minimum of 20 feet away from the affected work zones and that the lobby adjacent to the construction zone be closed off, in case material had been tracked in from the work area. All of these steps were taken.
APS staff and asbestos professionals decided to test all areas adjacent to the construction work area, to ensure no asbestos had contaminated surfaces or affected air quality. Because we knew that the test results would not return until mid-day on Wednesday, the decision was made to close school until we had test results to affirm that there was no problem.This recommendation was made by mid-afternoon Tuesday. To ensure the safety of everyone at Abingdon during the afternoon and evening, APS closed the Library, Playground and the entire section of the building where testing and cleaning would occur the next day.
Test results came back on Wednesday and confirmed the initial assessment that there was no contamination, and school could reopen on Thursday.
Contractors have resumed a limited schedule, primarily focusing on completion of the new cafeteria and kitchen. No work is currently taking place in the affected work zone other than cleaning by the asbestos abatement contractor, and no further work will be done until the contractor resolves the situation.
All test results are available on the Abingdon home page for your review. If you have any further questions, please contact Jeffrey Chambers, Director of Design and Construction, or James Meikle, Director of Maintenance, at 703-228-6600.
Assistant Superintendent, Facilities and Operations
Director, Design and Construction