The auditorium at Steinert High School in New Jersey recently closed their auditorium for "precautionary reasons," while the school district tests for asbestos. The closure happened two days before the school's Spring Musical was scheduled to open.
Asbestos became a concern after an environmental consultant examined a failing part of the auditorium ceiling. Finding asbestos in U.S. schools is not uncommon. About half of America's school buildings were built at the peak of asbestos use, making older construction materials and products a risk to student, teacher, and employee health if they are breaking down or falling apart.
In the case of Steinert High School, it had not been confirmed that asbestos is present. The district chose to "indefinitely" close the auditorium until test results returned. The musical's time and location was moved to a nearby middle school auditorium.
Considering the risk that asbestos poses, older schools should perform routine checks for damaged or degrading materials that could contain the substance. Teachers are some of those most at risk for contracting an asbestos-related disease, like mesothelioma, due to exposure at work, and young students are especially susceptible to respiratory conditions that are associated with exposure.