Pinelands Regional High School Again Wrestles With Reopening Date

Students May End Split Sessions Jan. 17
Jan 10, 2018
File Photo by: Ryan Morrill Pinelands Regional High School in October 2017.

The reopening of Pinelands Regional High School – closed since Oct. 13 due to asbestos fears, other environmental concerns and structural problems such as construction screws falling from the ceiling of the building’s commons area atrium – has been moved back yet again.

Necessitating emergency split sessions at the junior high building for both junior and senior high students, the high school was originally supposed to reopen in mid-November. But on Nov. 15, then Interim Superintendent Maryann Banks announced the school wouldn’t reopen until “mid-December.” (Soon thereafter, Banks announced her resignation due to health concerns.)

Come Dec. 20, new Acting Superintendent Cheryl Stevenson announced a target date for reopening of Jan. 8. That made sense; the school would have been closed anyway due to Christmas break, so any last-minute touchups that needed doing could easily be done.

But that prediction fell as quickly as earlier versions. On Jan. 4, Stevenson released another press release, pushing the reopening back to mid-January.

“As of today, we plan on reopening the Pinelands Regional High School to staff only on January 16, 2018. The tentative plans are to have all students report to the Junior High School in the current split session schedule on Jan. 16, 2018. After the high school students are dismissed on January 16, the high school staff will make the transition to the high school and prepare for the students’ arrival the next morning.

“High school students and staff will officially report to the high school on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 and return to a full regular day session. High school students will be on a modified regular schedule that consists of long instructional periods and a shortened lunch time. The modified schedule will assure adherence to the credit hour time needed to meet graduation requirements.”

That schedule, however, isn’t chipped in stone. In order for the high school to open its doors, once again a checklist must be completed:

• Cleanup of playground and exterior perimeter of building.

• Report of soil sample tests that confirm that the JHS/HS grounds are safe and ready for use.

• Removal/abatement of floor tiles on the second floor as recommended by a representative from the department of health.

• Inspection of all floor tiles throughout the building and, if necessary, replace/repair damaged tiles.

• Use a mediation company to clean the D-wing classrooms, HVAC system and hallway while under negative pressure, requiring the use of HEPA filter equipment.

• Perform a “flush out” of the building.

• Perform a thorough cleaning of entire building.

• Upon completion of the above items, perform asbestos/IAQ samples throughout the building to confirm the building is safe for occupancy.

• Conduct public tours of the building (schedule forthcoming).

Having lost two days of possible work on the checklist items to snow last week, the schedule will once again be tight. Parents, students and staff would be wise to often check the school district’s website for possible updates.

— Rick Mellerup

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