School shouldn’t be mandatory when buildings are hazardous

Dibanhi Ronzon, Contributing Writer

In the district of Philadelphia it’s really no secret that school buildings could be hazardous. It’s not fair to make school mandatory when the buildings are hazardous. In most Philly schools the buildings are so old we have paint chipping, ceilings falling down, doors not closing properly and more. 

The schools in Philadelphia are so hazardous that they have attracted national attention. In January 2021, one of the best schools in Philly, Masterman, had to section off parts of the school due to the contamination of asbestos they found. Going further south we find Furness dealing with walls falling down while students were trying to take their test, “like the whole ceiling went down , and we were all shocked, I couldn’t concentrate during my test,” says Tobing, a student attending Furness. The majority of schools in Philly were built before the 1970’s before lead-based paint was banned. Because of this we have a lot of schools in the district that had no remodelations and now have lead-based paint chipping and peeling off the walls.

Due to a lot of these issues we have both students and teachers falling ill because of how old and unsanitary the schools are. A teacher working in Meredith Elementary school was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a type of cancer that is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers for long periods of time. The teacher, Lea DiRusso, had been working in two asbestos contaminated schools for nearly 30 years and was later diagnosed with mesothelioma but because this cancer is so aggressive she really has no hope in surviving this.”I was completely unaware, as were my colleagues and staff and students, that there even was asbestos present in the school building,” DiRusso says “I did not know that the steam pipes behind me were wrapped in asbestos. And I touched them and I hung clotheslines to hang student work. And I used it because I was creating a home for my students.”. Students with asthma are also affected by this because of the mixture of the asbestos fibers mixed with the dust, or even just mold that could be found there could cause serious asthma attacks.  The rates of asthma related hospitalizations are highest in children living in North and West Philly, In Philadelphia the rate of asthma related hospitalizations is 59 hospitalizations per 10,000 children. 

There’s plenty of evidence that students are being harmed by the building itself. If a school had to choose between keeping their students safe or helping them become geniuses. We would want to keep all students healthy first. When certain teachers that harm or punish kids get some sort of punishment from the school district because of the  harming of students then shouldn’t buildings that harm students be helped by the district to make it not such a hazardous or dangerous place?

Currently if the buildings are being this impacting to people within the schools, it’s not fair to make school mandatory when the buildings are hazardous.”These changes will go into effect beginning in 2020-2021 school year and will require all students to attend school no later than age 6 and until age 18 or graduation, whichever occurs sooner.).” Why make it mandatory when it shows that they’re not putting my safety first with the buildings being so hazardous?