Sandy Hill Elementary in Jenison closed, crews removing vermiculite

Ottawa County

GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — An elementary school in Jenison is closed for the rest of the week after construction workers found a substance that could have led to a threat to students.

Jenison Public Schools Superintendent Brandon Graham says they found vermiculite inside of Sandy Hill Elementary School.

Jenison’s Sandy Hill Elementary was closed Dec. 9, 2021, after vermiculite was found in the building.

“We didn’t want to take a chance,” said Graham. “The health and safety of our kids and staff are our priority, and so we said, ‘you know what, we want to just close the building down, get at this right away.'”

Graham says the district is preparing for building upgrades.

“We’re in the middle of an exciting bond project,” said Graham. “Our community has blessed us with heating and air conditioning units in all of our classrooms. We have our contractors go through and they discovered trace amounts of vermiculite in one of our school buildings.”

Graham says the building was built in the 1950s. Vermiculite is a mineral that was used in the past for insulation to keep buildings warm in the winter. While not a harmful substance itself, a small percentage of it has been known to contain asbestos, which can cause lung cancer.

The district is now working to remove it.

“When we discovered this, we immediately reached out to our air quality specialist and had them come in, do air quality testing, and the great news was we were in healthy ranges for all of our building,” said Graham.

Graham says they plan to reopen Sandy Hill Elementary on Monday, but in the meantime, they’re working to know that the building is in fact safe.

“Even though the air quality was safe in the school, we wanted to make sure. We wanted to take all precautions to make sure there was no threat level to our kids,” said Graham.

Graham says they inspected the rest of the district’s buildings and found no threat to students.

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