SCUSD Orders Closure of Fruit Ridge Elementary School as a Precaution

Press release

SCUSD has ordered the closure of Fruit Ridge Elementary School while safety crews conduct a specialized cleaning of the main building in preparation for a complete removal of attic insulation containing asbestos fibers.

Superintendent Jonathan Raymond ordered the closure and the asbestos abatement after workers installing wireless technology came in contact with the insulation, potentially disrupting the asbestos.

”We are being extremely cautious in this situation,” Raymond said. “The safety of students and our staff is our top concern.”

Currently, an independent laboratory is using a transmission electron microscopy system to analyze air samples collected Friday morning from several main hall classrooms. The tests will determine if asbestos fibers made their way from the attic to classrooms during the wireless installation process.

The tests could show that there is no safety risk or that any risk could be minimized, but Superintendent Raymond ordered the relocation and abatement anyway, saying the removal of the asbestos is the best course for ensuring the long-term safety of students and staff.

Beginning Wednesday, February 23, students and staff will be relocated to the vacant Bear Flag Elementary School site, located at 6620 Gloria Drive. Monday is an SCUSD scheduled holiday –President’s Day – and there will be no classes for Fruit Ridge students on Tuesday to allow staff to prepare the Bear Flag building for classes.

SCUSD will provide bus transportation for students and will change the school schedule to allow time for students to travel to and from school. Parents were notified of the relocation on Friday afternoon.

The school, built in 1937, has a type of blown-in attic insulation material called vermiculite, which was common in older buildings. Tests ordered by the district found the insulation contained a low concentration of asbestos (in the range of 0.067 percent to 0.17 percent). At Fruit Ridge, the vermiculite
is above both the original ceiling panel system and a second drop-in ceiling that was installed sometime later.

Fruit Ridge also houses several newer portable buildings with modern insulation that does not contain asbestos fibers. Although those wings can continue to be used, the district chose to relocate the entire campus in consideration of families and staff concern about breaking up the closely knit school community.

The Fruit Ridge campus also houses an independent charter school, the Language Academy School. That program is also in newer portables and will not be affected by the relocation.