SHOREHAM — Students at Shoreham Elementary will be returning to school a little later than expected this year.
On Aug. 27, Addison County Supervisory Union (ACSU) officials announced the school will open on Sept. 14, almost two weeks later than the originally scheduled Sept. 2 opening. In a letter to Shoreham families, ACSU superintendent Lee Sease explained that the delay is due to the need to remove mold and asbestos in the school, discovered following a routine carpet cleaning in early July.
Officials explained the mold is creating air quality issues throughout the building. When the ACSU consulted an expert about the problem, the expert recommended that the carpets be replaced in affected areas.
As the replacement of the carpets got under way, however, it became clear that some of the older carpets were placed over asbestos tiling, and that the removal process would disturb the tiles. The ACSU concluded that the tiles would also need to be removed, and that all of the air systems would subsequently need to be cleaned.
The asbestos removal began late in the summer, but it took some time for the administration to realize that the school would not be able to open on time.
“We didn’t know until the beginning of this week,” Shoreham Elementary principal Heather Best said on Friday.
Removal of the tiling did not begin until late in the summer and is still under way. The new flooring cannot be laid until the contaminated tiling is completely removed and air quality tests are satisfactory. In his letter, Superintendent Sease emphasized that the start date is not set in stone.
“Until the work is completed … we cannot be absolute about a start date,” he said.
But Best was confident that the work would be finished by Sept. 14.
“All the information that we needed to make our best estimate came in yesterday,” she said. “We are fairly positive that we’ll be able to meet that date.”
In the meantime, the school staff will be meeting to decide when to schedule makeup classes. The state of Vermont requires that schools have a minimum of 175 school days each year, and due to the delayed opening, Shoreham Elementary will be seven days behind.
“We should have a plan by the beginning of next week,” said Best.
In his letter, Sease acknowledged that the delayed start date might pose an inconvenience to some families. But he also noted that some might find the delay “a gift, an extended summer vacation and time with your family before children return to school.”