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March 04, 2023

School District of Philadelphia to relocate Building 21 students following asbestos exposure

Students and staff will occupy 19 classrooms on the fourth floor of Strawberry Mansion High School starting on March 6.

Education Schools
Building 21 school students relocated asbestos outbreak Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Starting Monday, March 6, students and staff from Building 21 will indefinitely report to Strawberry Mansion High School while an asbestos exposure is addressed.

After an asbestos outbreak forced a West Oak Lane high school to move to virtual learning this week, the School District of Philadelphia has announced the building will remain closed indefinitely. 

Starting Monday, March 6, Building 21, the 390-student school, will be relocated to Strawberry Mansion High School. Staff and students from the Northwest Philly school will occupy their own space on the fourth floor of the building. 

They will have access to 19 classrooms and seven smaller rooms, including an area for office staff and space for lunch. 

The asbestos was discovered during a federally mandated inspection. 

"The school's auditorium has been sealed, and licensed asbestos workers from the District's contractor are addressing areas of concern identified this week during the routine three-year asbestos inspection we conduct in each District school. In addition, sections of the walls in the auditorium balcony, stairwells, and projector room require repairs due to the asbestos-containing plaster being damaged and flaking. There also is visible damage to the auditorium ceiling, and crews will be working to build scaffolding to access the area, assess the condition, and conduct any appropriate repairs," Deputy Superintendent of Academic Services ShaVon Savage said in a letter sent to families on Friday. 

Students from Building 21 will get a two-hour delay on Monday while teachers and other staff members will report to work on time to prepare and settle into their new space at Strawberry Mansion High School.

An open house for families, students, and staff members has been set up for Sunday, March 5, at the new school building from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to view their new temporary school space. 

Students can also pick up SEPTA passes during the open house or Monday morning from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Last year former Philadelphia City Councilmember Derek Green spearheaded a bill requiring more asbestos inspections in schools.