Students at 2 Philly schools have a date to return to asbestos-troubled building

Mike DeNardo
February 04, 2020 - 6:04 pm
Ben Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy school building.

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia School District has set Feb. 18 as the day when students at Ben Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy will move back into their building after more than four months of asbestos and construction work.

One thousand students have been going to classes at alternate sites since October, when the district closed the Franklin building. That followed the discovery of asbestos in the boiler room during late-running renovations of the school that Franklin High and Science Leadership Academy would share.  

After months of abatement and construction, the district is now targeting Tuesday, Feb. 18 as the day the two schools will move back in. 

District spokeswoman Monica Lewis says the administration has taken steps to assure the building is now safe.

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"Our main priority is the safety and well-being of our students and staff. So you can rest assured that we would not allow for anyone to occupy a building that is not deemed safe," she said. 

After teaching his students for more than four months at school headquarters, SLA history teacher Dan Symonds wants to believe his regular school building is no longer dangerous.

"I think the crystal ball is too foggy to look into to really try and give a level of confidence about what going back in that building is like. I am hopeful that in fact it is safe and that that's a learning environment, finally," Symonds said. 

Symonds says his students have been resilient throughout a disrupted school year.