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Our Lady of Fatima Catholic school prepares to welcome home students

By Angus Argyle [1]

BELLEVILLE – Renovations to eliminate a dangerous chemical from Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School [2] have been completed and students will be able to return to the school in the new year.

Trichloroethylene – an airborne chemical used commonly in industrial solvents – was found during a routine inspection in June and students were relocated to Georges Vanier Catholic School [3] to begin the school year.

A public open house is taking place Dec. 8. Parents will be able to view the new ventilation system, ask questions and learn about the air quality monitoring program that the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board has put in place.

The program is designed to ensure that all new ventilation system upgrades are in working order before students return to the school.

Theresa Kennedy, superintendent of school effectiveness, said that the levels detected this year were not necessarily any different from previous years. She indicated that the Ministry of Environment had upped their standards and the levels were now considered dangerous.

“This had to do with differences in what the expectations were from the Ministry of Environment,” she said.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety [4], the substance is, “toxic, can cause death. Can irritate the nose and throat. Can harm the nervous system. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion. A severe exposure can cause unconsciousness.”

Kennedy says that, “an incident like this hasn’t occurred before in her time as a superintendent. All schools in the ALCDSB are monitored.”

Kennedy commended the staff from both schools on their successful transition.

“It was a fantastic relocation,” said Kennedy. “The parents were very supportive given the very quick transition… everything’s going very well.”