MASSENA — Massena Central School officials are waiting for a final report after Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Studies safety officers and a representative from the state Department of Health performed tests as part of the district’s efforts to address concerns about air quality issues.
Facilities Committee Chairman Kevin Perretta said the representatives performed testing during the February break. He said they did some ventilation (air flow) testing and additional carbon dioxide testing. In addition, they examined the temperature, relative humidity and particulate count.
“They did some testing on many areas of air quality over the break,” Mr. Perretta said.
The representatives also visually inspected for mold and found nothing except some ceiling water stains in the 200 wing of the high school.
An Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act inspection was also done, and nothing unusual was noted.
Radon testing was expected to be done during spring break.
Additionally, water testing was done to check for lead, and the only finding was a janitor sink that was beyond the threshold at Jefferson Elementary School. The sink had previously been identified in 2016 and a sign has instructed individuals not to drink from the sink.
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 was a follow-up to the concerns raised by the bargaining units following the two deaths last year.
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.