Extra safety precautions coming to Three Oaks over student health concerns

New safety measures are coming to Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside, P.E.I., in response to student health concerns.

Parents say students reporting symptoms they believe are related to construction at the school

Some parents have been concerned that students at Three Oaks Senior High School are experiencing health problems due to construction at the school. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

New safety measures are coming to Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside, P.E.I., in response to student health concerns.

Some parents say students are reporting symptoms that they believe are related to the construction activity happening at the school.

Dozens of them have been complaining of illnesses such as breathing problems, headaches and nausea.

Following the complaints, a meeting was held on Friday with representatives from the school, government, the construction company, students and parents.

Out of that meeting, the Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy agreed that more investigation is needed and will implement additional measures that go beyond typical practice.

"I think it's a good positive step forward," said Leigh Dyment, a member of the TOSH parent council.

New safety measures

Strict testing protocols will continue in the construction areas, but more testing will additionally be done in non-construction areas that are occupied by students and staff to look for things such as organic compounds, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and construction dust.

Leigh Dyment says the additional precautions are a step in the right direction. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

Another problem has been noise, which will also be addressed.

"We are going to ask any of the students or teachers to make sure if noise becomes an issue to contact the school and make sure the noise gets shut down. Because it can be an issue, particularly for some students that have learning disabilities related to focus," Dyment said.

"So it really can affect their ability to concentrate in the school."

Parent council to keep monitoring the situation

A new security person will be hired to monitor the construction area to ensure the doors to the area stay closed and there are no breaches of the containment walls. 

The major construction project is expected to by completed by April 2019. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

As well, an additional custodian will work to clean surfaces that become dusty during construction.

And a follow-up meeting will be held after the additional air quality tests have been completed and further action may be taken at that time.

The parent council wants to keep monitoring the situation to see if these new measures are helping. They are encouraging anyone who has a complaint or feels symptoms to come forward and report it. 

"Overall, I think the steps that were taken were really positive and we're quite happy with those, we just want to see what the results are," Dyment said.

Construction should be completed by April 2019

​The entire 160,000-square-foot school is being completely remodeled. It's the building's first major upgrade since it opened in 1976.

The major construction project was estimated to cost $22.6-million.

So far, the work is about a third of the way completed, and is expected to be done by 2019.

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With files from Natalia Goodwin