Dear New Rochelle Community:
I am writing to share today’s update on the repairs of Isaac E. Young Middle School and New Rochelle High School, both of which were damaged by excessive flooding from what was Hurricane Ida.
Much has been reported about the asbestos abatement being performed at both schools in conjunction with the flood recovery, and several community members have asked for clarification.
There are two basic categories of asbestos: friable and non-friable. Friable asbestos is the type in which asbestos fibers can become airborne and potentially dangerous if inhaled into the lungs. In the case of Isaac E. Young Middle School and New Rochelle High School, this type of asbestos is not a concern.
The material that the school district encountered in the flood recovery is non-friable. Non-friable asbestos examples can include asbestos containing floor tile, asbestos containing mastic (glue) that adheres the floor tiles to the floor, and exterior below-grade waterproofing on a foundation wall.
Non-friable asbestos must still be removed in strict accordance with state and federal guidelines, but the individual asbestos fibers do not become airborne because they are bound into a manufactured material like the floor tile or literally encased in glue. Since these fibers do not become airborne under proper handling, there is no opportunity for inhalation.
The school district strictly adheres to all state and federal asbestos handling regulations. We have surveyed all of the district's facilities, conducted extensive testing, and we maintain records of all known asbestos in the school district. In the case of the recent flood, we also conducted additional testing on suspect materials and proceeded accordingly.
Asbestos is always removed under contract with outside vendors after project approval from the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL). We obtained emergency approvals for the flood recovery by working closely with our consultants and NYSDOL. We are required to conduct asbestos air monitoring both within the work area and outside the work area to ensure that asbestos is not being dispersed outside the work area.
After final cleaning, air sampling also demonstrates that the project was completed successfully with no contamination released during the work, or present at the end of the project.
More information can be obtained on this topic from the school district's facilities department.
At Isaac E. Young Middle School, the concrete floors in the cafeteria, two classrooms, and an office were replaced last Saturday, October 2. Once the concrete cures, the finished floors will be completed in the two affected classrooms and additional office, while an epoxy painted floor will be completed in the cafeteria. The two affected bathrooms are being reconstructed and are scheduled to be operational by November 1.
During the week of October 18, our on-site contractor will complete the punch list and do a cleanup. The following week, October 25, our facilities custodial staff will do a detailed cleaning and application of what is known as bioprotect antimicrobial coating. Staff and students will be able to safely re-occupy the remaining half of the basement rooms by November 1. The two sub-basement rooms – used for music and exercise – will re-open at a later date, as we are planning to redesign these spaces to avoid future flooding.
At New Rochelle High School, all corrective and remediation repair work in Priority Zone 1 (House 1 and the surrounding area) was completed and all furniture returned from storage last Saturday, October 2. The school district’s technology technicians are reinstalling computers and verifying network connections for each space.
Demolition of the damaged mechanical spaces in the athletic wing, pool, and library will be completed today, October 8, along with all Zone 2 (C Wing) reconstruction work. All furniture will be returned to Zone 2 this weekend, October 9 and 10.
All Zone 3 (B Wing) reconstruction work is scheduled to be completed by next Friday, October 15 and furniture will be reinstalled on Saturday and Sunday, October 16 and 17. The contractor is planning to do a final punch list and have cleanup completed by Monday, October 25. At that time, school district staff will arrange all furniture and equipment, distribute supplies, perform final cleaning, and apply bioprotect in each completed space. Principal Dr. Dagoberto Artiles will coordinate getting staff back into the building on Thursday, October 28 and will host a new-student orientation on Friday, October 29. We are on schedule and looking forward to finally welcoming our New Rochelle High School students back to campus on Monday, November 1.
Please note that the November 1 re-opening will allow occupancy of Houses 1, 2, 3, and 4. There will not be access to library spaces or athletic areas as a result of damaged ventilation equipment. The mechanical areas serving these spaces will require a significant redesign to prevent this from happening again. We are planning to relocate three mechanical rooms to a room on a higher level to avoid these sub-basement levels. These spaces will likely be unavailable for the entirety of the school year, based on lead times of equipment and supply chain challenges. Design meetings to address these issues will be held prior to the November 1 re-opening.
I again thank our crews for their tireless efforts to repair and safely return our schools for students and staff. I also thank our faculty and staff for their dedication and skill in continuing to educate our students throughout this time. Additionally, I thank our families and parents for bearing with us and supporting your children. Finally, I extend a special thanks to our students for enduring these challenges. Go Huguenots!