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School stays closed due to asbestos

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 10:56 12/05/2014

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An asbestos scare has changed what would have been a normal start to the term for Auckland's Bayfield School.

The Herne Bay institution will be closed all week after asbestos dust was found on a construction site last Thursday.

The asbestos cladding is to be completely removed from Bayfield's buildings.

The Ministry of Education was carrying out a second round of testing to make sure there was no trace of asbestos outside the demolition site. 

Students are currently being taught at Ponsonby Primary School, less than 2 km down the road.

Principal Sheryl Fletcher said the school community is rising to the challenge.

The youngsters are being taught in spare classrooms, the hall and the library at Ponsonby School, she said.

"One of the things we talk about at school is being resilient and this is testing that. For the teachers and the children at both schools. It's very extreme.

"We've said it's an adventure and they will never forget it."

The merger with Ponsonby will last for at least the week,Fletcher said.

Bayfield School's ground are officially closed but may reopen before the students return to the site, she said.

"It's a moving beast. It's about assessment each day.

"It's an opportunity for the contractors to finish the complete demolition without the children on site."

Bayfield is one of 27 central Auckland schools funded by the Ministry of Education currently affected by weather-tightness issues.

The building containing asbestos is being removed in line with the Ministry-driven rebuild.

Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure service Kim Shannon told media on Thursday that testing revealed no sign of asbestos outside the immediate work site area.

More tests were commissioned to make absolutely sure, Shannon said.

"The Board of Trustees won't clear the school to reopen until they are absolutely confident it is safe. The safety of the children and staff is both the Board's and the Ministry of Education's top priority."

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