SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Concerns of asbestos in the building have rocked one local school district resulting in the indefinite closing of one intermediate school.
Administrators, faculty, and staff have been in crunch time coming up with a plan to get students back in the classroom and Thursday night was a re-orientation of sorts.
The Scranton School District is fighting an uphill battle with asbestos test results and the indefinite closing of Northeast Intermediate. After coming up with a plan to send students to two other local middle schools, principal Joseph Hanni is excited to continue their education.
“If there’s any school that can handle this, it’s our school,” said Hanni.
Northeast Intermediate students have been away from the classroom for a week after asbestos testing resulted in the indefinite closure of the school.
The solution: students will be split into South or West Intermediate. Thursday night, school officials laid out the plan for the first time to students and their families.
“What we’ve done in five days, it normally takes us five months. We’re able to see that as difficult as it’s been, a lot of good has come from this,” Hanni said.
Hanni says the building issue is above his pay grade. His job is to make sure his students get back into the classroom as soon as possible, a sentiment that is embraced by Northeast parents like Susan Vanderbilt.
“It’s hard on a student to shift schools, period,” said Vanderbilt. “Half way through the school year? That’s difficult. As long as they continue to receive education, I’m happy with that.”
Other parents, like Seth Wargo, are still frustrated by a lack of communication with families and the uncertainty with the district. For them, this is just a first step towards an eventual solution.
“Our confidence level was at zero, previously,” noted Wargo. “So now, adding two steps doesn’t get us to the top of the stairs.”
Eighth-grader Patrick Dearamburu says the student body at Northeast is like family, but with the situation out of his control, his priorities are set.
“I don’t really understand it and I’m not really worried about it,” he said. “I’m just worried about school, my grades and making honor roll (and everything).”
There are still questions as to short and long-term solutions for a majority of schools within the Scranton School District that have shown troubling asbestos and water quality results but at least the students of Northeast Intermediate will be back in session Friday.
School officials say students and staff have gone above and beyond in the short time frame to redecorate, gather supplies, and make their new classmates feel welcome.