MASSENA — A safety officer from the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services and a state Department of Labor representative were scheduled to visit the Massena Central School District this week as part of the district’s efforts to address concerns about air quality issues.

Board of education member Kevin Perretta, chairman of the District’s Facilities Committee, said the officials were scheduled to do a walk-through inspection and environmental testing during the week. Testing was scheduled to include radon and a battery of other air quality tests.

The Massena Federation of Teachers and Massena Confederated School Employees’ Association had requested environmental testing because of their concerns following the cancer-related deaths of William D. Alderson and Kevin H. McBath in 2019.

District officials had met with union leadership, the state Department of Health and state Department of Labor on Jan. 27. The visit from BOCES and the Department of Labor is a follow-up to the concerns raised by the bargaining units following the two deaths last year.

Mr. Perretta said they’ll continue to look at the issue to address the concerns.

“They’re going to set up some employee surveys to get to the root of what the issue is, to get some examples of how we can try to get information about what they’re looking for and how to address their issues,” he said.

Superintendent Patrick Brady had previously said that the Department of Health indicated it was common for them to receive requests for testing of school buildings and other public places, particularly when there had been a seeming concentration of illnesses.

He also said it was rare for the Department of Health to find direct links between school buildings and health issues because there were so many other factors that cause disease, such as family history, stress, nutrition, lifestyle and a variety of others.

“Such occurrences naturally cause alarm and anxiety among staff,” he said. “We understand that, and it is the reason why we have taken these concerns seriously and brought health officials in for collaboration.”

Mr. Brady said the upcoming capital project, which begins this summer, will include an upgrade to the district’s building systems, including indoor ventilation.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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