JFK high school students to finish year elsewhere

John F. Kennedy high school students will finish their school year at Rosemount high school, while public health authorities study the asbestos risk and another clean-up is carried out.
The school board first announced the closure at JFK last week. (CBC)

The English Montreal School Board is transferring the 470 students at John F. Kennedy high school and business centre to nearby Rosemount high school for the remainder of the school year, after public health authorities concluded there are still worrisome traces of asbestos in the school.

School board officials announced that decision at a meeting on Monday evening at Rosemount high school, where public health officials were on hand to give students and their parents an update on the situation.

Traces of asbestos remain

Three weeks ago, traces of asbestos were found in two ventilation rooms in the school in Montreal's St-Michel neighbourhood. The school had it cleaned.

However, precautionary testing done in other parts of the building turned up additional traces of asbestos.

Last week, the school announced it would be closed for two days for advanced testing, then extended the closure for another day on Monday.

No school until Thursday for JFK students

The John F. Kennedy students will remain off until Thursday, and students and teachers will be allowed back into the school in small groups, for one hour at a time, to collect their school materials and personal effects.

A public health toxicologist, Monique Beausoleil, said in a written report that she found no detectable level of airborne asbestos in the school.

She said asbestos still present in the walls and ceilings of the two ventilation rooms has deteriorated over the years, and it's not yet clear if the coming and going of people from those rooms could dislodge asbestos fibres.

She recommended additional testing and a careful clean-up of any remaining asbestos.

Beausoleil said the risk to students and staff at the school is extremely low, when compared to that faced by miners, asbestos workers and people in the renovation and construction industry.

School authorities said a full clean-up could take several weeks or even months — but committed to making sure the work is done before school resumes in September.