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Temporary classrooms for kids at school shut by asbestos alert

By Claire Williamson and David Young

Published 13/06/2015

St Joseph’s Primary School on the Greystone Road in Antrim was forced to close earlier this week
St Joseph’s Primary School on the Greystone Road in Antrim was forced to close earlier this week

Pupils of a Co Antrim primary school closed due to an asbestos scare in the ageing building will return to lessons on Monday in temporary accommodation.

Children will resume lessons but teaching will take place in alternative locations due to "ongoing essential maintenance".

The asbestos discovery was made during routine building work at St Joseph's in Antrim town earlier this week.

Temporary accommodation has been provided for the pupils in its adjacent parish centre and in Greystone Primary, a controlled school just a few hundred yards away from the Catholic school.

Just over half the 250 pupils will attend classes at Greystone PS, while the remainder will be taught in the local parish centre.

Parents and pupils received details of the interim teaching provision yesterday afternoon

The Catholic Council for Maintained Schools (CMMS) said: "Alternative provision for housing the school has been identified, and parents have now been informed of the arrangements.

"The local parish centre will be the location for Primary 5 to 7 classes, while Primary 1 to 4 will be located in the nearby controlled school, Greystone Primary School.

"The staff and governors are grateful to both Greystone Primary School and the local parish centre for the use of their facilities. St Joseph's Primary School continues to comply fully with the HSE as they continue their survey work at the school.

"It is not anticipated that the school building will be available for use in the last weeks of the 2014/15 academic term.

"However, CCMS are confident that the necessary works will be completed in time for the school to return to its premises for the beginning of the 2015/16 academic term this coming September."

Survey work to establish the scale of the asbestos problem in the buildings is already under way.

A CCMS spokesman said he anticipated that remedial works at St Joseph's would be completed in time for it to reopen a the start of the new academic year.

He added that the Department of Education would allocate emergency funds to ensure that the remedial works were completed as quickly as possible.

Councillor Nigel Kells paid tribute to the speed and efficiency with which the staff at St Joseph's acted to ensure the safety of the pupils once they were alerts to the asbestos issue.

He said: "All credit must go to the school staff.

"They took very prompt action to address this serious issue."

The Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) said: "HSENI is aware of issues in relation to asbestos management in St Joseph's Primary School in Stiles, Antrim.

"It has directed the education authority and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools to take the necessary actions to address the matter."

The nearby St Joseph's nursery school is not affected by the asbestos discovery.

Exposure to asbestos can cause cancer and the peak of its use occurred from the 1930s to the end of the 1970s.

It was once used in more than 3,000 consumer products, including everyday items like toasters and hair-dryers.

Belfast Telegraph

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