PHILADELPHIA - Teachers at Julia Masterman School in Spring Garden protested Thursday outside of the building citing safety concerns regarding asbestos activity in the building.
They were welcomed back to prepare for the upcoming school year, but say they don’t want to be inside the building until the district says it’s safe to do so.
"We don’t feel safe in the building right now because information from the district has not been shared showing the building is safe," said Ethan Tannen.
Tannen, who also teaches Math at the school, says teachers are uneasy about their own safety and the safety of their students.
"We need health and safety to be a priority and we want to have that excitement along with a safe building. There’s no reason why those two things can’t co-exist," said Tannen.
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Superintendent Dr. William Hite however maintains the building is safe.
"Abatement and repairs were made in January, July and August of this year which addresses 60 areas of damaged asbestos. All of the work was conducted under the supervision of a third party certified asbestos project inspector," said Dr. Hite.
The Superintendent also added that several reports have been completed on the building’s safety and have been submitted to the Masterman Home and School Association (HSA). Hite says the most recent one is still being finalized by the third party supervisor.
Some teachers at Masterman are still not buying it.
"Masterman should not have toxic conditions nor should McClure, nor should Ben Franklin or any school in the district of Philadelphia," said Tannen. He continued, "we hope that this doesn’t stretch out because we want to get back to our job in a normal manner but it should not come as a sacrifice to the safety of students and staff."
FOX29 received a statement from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers which reads in part,
"There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our students and staff. And as a union, we will continue to fight diligently for exactly that. From legal channels to negotiations, from rallies to the media, we will never stop our pursuit of what our students and educators deserve."
Classes for Philadelphia Public School students begin on Tuesday, Aug. 31.