Clark students to be relocated to alternate schools Monday

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HARTFORD–The John C. Clark, Jr. Elementary & Middle School in Hartford will remain closed for the rest of the week due to the discovery of chemicals in the new sprinkler system.

As of Monday, Jan. 12, the students will be relocated to alternate school sites as officials conduct further testing.

The school was closed on Wednesday, the first day back from winter break.

The school says this is in an abundance of caution as facility maintenance issues are resolved. Low levels of PCBs were found in the air before winter break and in tests since. PCBs are polychlorinated biphenyls, which are industrial chemicals that the EPA considers a potential carcinogen.

The sprinkler system was tested, causing concerns for the air quality.

A meeting will be held tomorrow  in the Salvation Army Offices at 100 Nelson Street so parents and families can have any questions answered.

Here is the full statement from the Superintendent’s office.

As of Monday, January 12, 2015, the students and staff of Clark Elementary School at 75 Clark Street will be relocated to alternate school sites as we conduct further testing to determine the source of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the air.

There was no requirement or directive from any regulatory agency to evacuate the building.  Given that the testing process involves contractors working at various locations around the school, we believe that this would have been disruptive to the educational setting. As such, we made the determination that it was in the best interest of students and staff, with an abundance of caution, to temporarily relocate to alternate school sites. We made this determination as soon as we received the air quality results.

New School Sites

Students in Pre-K through grade 3 will resume classes at the Museum Academy at Wish School, 350 Barbour Street, and students in grades 4 through 8 will be housed in the Journalism and Media Academy at 150 Tower Avenue. The two ABA classrooms will be relocated to Simpson Waverly School, 55 Waverly Street.

Any child who currently receives transportation services will continue to receive bus transportation from his or her current pick-up location to and from the new school site. In addition, any student who walks to Clark School will be transported from Clark School to and from their new school site.

After school programming with the Village for Families and Children will be provided at the new sites. Students enrolled in after school programming will receive transportation services either to Clark School or to their regular bus stop.

Family Meeting

In order to inform families and answer questions, we have made arrangements for a family meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 10, 2015, in the Salvation Army Offices at 100 Nelson Street. I will be there along with my staff to meet with parents and provide logistical details. Arrangements will also be made for family open houses at the new school sites.

Questions About PCBs Exposure

Questions about PCBs may be directed to Kenny Foscue, MPH. Mr. Foscue is an epidemiologist and health educator with the Connecticut Department of Public Health. He can be reached at (860) 509-7740 or via e-mail at

We also invite you to learn more about PCBs online by linking to the EPA’s webpage at

http://www.epa.gov/pcbsincaulk/maxconcentrations.htm

Testing Background

The testing was conducted in preparation for the installation of a new sprinkler system at Clark school. Air samplings were taken on December 19th and the results were received on December 24th. The results revealed the presence of PCBs – a material used in construction and electrical products prior to 1978 – higher than the recommended level for children five and under. Air sample returns ranged from 194 nanograms per cubic meter of air to 223 nanograms per cubic meter of air. All tested dust samples came back with zero trace of PCBs.

Following the outcome of initial testing, under recommendation from the EPA, we ventilated the building. Additional tests conducted January 5th revealed samples ranging from 52 to 571 nanograms per cubic meter of air.

In addition the EPA, we have contacted the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the state Department of Education, the state Department of Administrative Services, the state Department of Public Health and the Hartford Department of Health and Human Services for guidance on this issue.

Ongoing Communication

As this is an evolving situation, we will continue to keep families, staff and the community informed as further developments occur.

Parents, teachers, community members and strategic partners at the school have been informed of the decision to relocate and we are in continuous contact with them to ensure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

For more information, parents may contact the Welcome Center (860) 695-8400. Press calls should be directed to David Medina, Director of Communications, at (860) 695-8862.