Asbestos forces another Philadelphia school to close; district reveals plan to address concerns

The School District of Philadelphia has announced its plans to improve safety and address environmental concerns inside their schools, while also announcing the closure of another school.

The district announced the details of their “Healthy Schools” initiative that aims to take on asbestos in schools as well as other environmental concerns.

School district officials hope their plans will “accelerate the improvement of environmental conditions in District schools by focusing on three critical areas.”

Those three areas include:

  • Better identifying concerns, increasing responsiveness and addressing known asbestos conditions in schools.
  • More proactively and effectively managing environmental safety and capital projects.
  • Better communicating with, educating, and empowering staff and community members about environmental safety in schools.  

District officials say they have already begun to take action in several key areas.

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, officials revealed that more than 80% of schools have some sort of asbestos or lead in the building, due to their age.


 “The average age of our school buildings is 70 years old, with many more than 120 years old,” said Superintendent Dr. William Hite. “As a result, we face significant structural and environmental challenges in our buildings, which are costly.”

Officials announced the Pratt Head Start Center in North Philadelphia will be closing Wednesday due to asbestos and students will be relocated. A letter to parents revealed abestos-containing material was found to have been damaged in the boiler room and potentially in other areas. While those areas are not accessible to students, the school district says they should be repaired. 

Parents can expect to have more information about relocation by Thursday, Nov. 21. 

Earlier in the fall, Benjamin Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy (SLA), which share a campus in Spring Garden, were closed indefinitely due to asbestos that was found in damaged insulation material.

Students from those schools have since been relocated.


For the latest local news, sports and weather, download the FOX 29 News app.