School officials in the James Bay Cree community of Chisasibi in northern Quebec have ordered the temporary closure and cleanup of two schools, after tests revealed the presence of mould and asbestos.
"Extensive" repairs will be needed at the recently built Waapinichikush Elementary School because of a mould problem. The building, which cost more than $18 million, opened in 2012. The repairs include removal of mould, repairing faulty flooring, and improving air ventilation.
Chisasibi is the largest Cree community, with a population of about 4,500, located at the end of the James Bay Highway, about 1,400 kilometres north of Montreal.
"Maintaining a healthy and safe work environment for our students and employees is our priority and a matter that is taken extremely seriously at the Cree School Board," said Abraham Jolly, director general, in a statement.
In tests carried out in June, mould and asbestos were also found at the community's high school, James Bay Eeyou School.
Both facilities have been closed and crews specialized in the removal of mould and asbestos sent in.
The statement says the asbestos at James Bay Eeyou School is contained and therefore poses no health risk, but the decision was made to remove it anyway.
"Though there [are] currently no risks associated with the contained asbestos, the school closure is a precautionary measure in case the ventilation system does not provide adequate coverage," Jolly added.
Students will miss some days at the start of the school year, with both Waapinichikush Elementary School and James Bay Eeyou School expected to reopen on Aug. 28.
Officials say they are working on a plan to make up for the lost school days, without making unnecessary changes to the school calendar.