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LETTER: Thanks to those concerned

The renovations at Three Oaks Senior High caused a stir in the community as parents and students have raised concerns about safety issues.
The renovations at Three Oaks Senior High caused a stir in the community as parents and students have raised concerns about safety issues. - Millicent McKay

As a parent of a student at Three Oaks Senior High School (TOSH), I want to sincerely thank the teachers, administration, custodians, construction managers and tradespeople who have consistently strived to keep the health and safety of students as the top priority throughout the school renovation. My kids have attended schools in Summerside and as they have progressed through the system, I have never doubted the staff putting the needs of our children first. Simply put, they treat our kids as their own. I have the utmost confidence that the staff would advocate for our children if ever in harm’s way.

This expansive renovation includes 25 new classrooms, a new library, a new music and band room, and much more. There is a biomass heat installation for energy efficient heating, upgraded roofing, and a brand new, state-of-the-art ventilation system. The transformation of this building, since my time there as a student in the mid 1980s, has been incredible.

It is unfortunate that two or three people continue to attempt to spread fear in our school community about the health and safety of students, even now that the construction process is largely complete.

Two years ago, there was an isolated incident involving the removal of misidentified asbestos-containing ceiling tiles near a loading dock – in an area away from student spaces. The issue was noticed immediately, the area was tested, sealed and a hazardous material abatement protocol was put in place.

Since that day, there have been no asbestos-related issues at TOSH.

I know that safety was the first topic of discussion at every construction meeting (over 85 to date). An ad-hoc committee was formed so parents and school representatives could meet with the construction manager and environmental experts on a regular basis. This was to make sure not only our children were safe, but to make sure the school staff and contractors were safe

I understand everyone responds differently to environmental conditions. Students were given the opportunity to transfer to nearby schools if they felt their health was impacted. I believe two students opted for a transfer and I am happy the school was able to accommodate this request. 

Removal of all hazardous material was completed successfully and safely last summer.

Air quality testing was done on a regular basis and shared publicly, with hundreds of pages of test results listed on our government website. Hundreds of pages of information was also released to applicants, through Freedom of Information requests.

Most importantly, our province’s Chief Public Health Officer reviewed the entire construction process at TOSH and found no concerns related to asbestos affecting student health. Dr. Morrison clearly stated that even the inadvertent issue with the ceiling tiles in March 2017 did not pose a short or long-term health risk to students.

I do not know the motivations of those who continue to inaccurately state anything else. Their claims are not supported by factual evidence.

What I do know is that the leadership shown by the staff at TOSH is not only top-notch, but transparent and has the best interests of students in mind.

The students are thriving at their newly renovated school. I deeply appreciate the school staff who are making TOSH a better place for our kids. I thank everyone who shows up – every day – to help our school community and actively demonstrate that they are truly concerned about the well-being of our kids. 

Chris Palmer, parent of Three Oaks Senior High student

MLA for District 21: Summerside-Wilmot

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