Concerns arise over construction dust

Principal and students discuss air quality at SFHS


Zach Graf

Pictured: One area under construction in the high school is by the new English wing. Several new classrooms are in progress.

Brett Overvold, Zach Graf

Over the past 7 months, Saint Francis Area Schools have undergone significant changes because of construction that began after an $80 million bond for deferred maintenance passed in 2017.

While many people think the upgrades are much needed and it seems that most students, staff, and parents are very happy with the changes that have occurred so far, bringing a brighter atmosphere to the learning environment, there are some concerns among parents and students about sending students back to school as construction continues. One main concern is air quality and whether or not it is actually safe for students and staff to be in construction areas and how it might specifically affect people with health issues like asthma.

“We are doing some testing to compare the current air quality to that before construction,” said SFHS Principal Doug Austin.  

Austin said there have been some minor concerns that he has sent to the district office, but overall there hasn’t seemed to be a huge increase in breathing problems.

The district has appointed Chris Wirz, the maintenance department supervisor, to be in charge of air quality control for all buildings during construction. An email to Wirz has not been answered at this time. 

“I think that whenever you have construction in a building there is a lot of dust and things like that,” said Austin. “and I know they are trying their best to clean up after themselves”.

While some students have seen no effect, others feel the dust may have triggered their asthma.

Senior Brooke Stearns said that she had not felt any effects from the construction and did not feel like her asthma symptoms had gotten any worse since she came back to school. 

However, junior Sydnee Crenshaw, has more concerns. She feels she has noticed a difference in her breathing since she started school.

“I’ve never really had to use my inhaler during school,” she said, “but I have a few times this year.” 

As he waits for test results, Austin has the issue on his radar.

“We did have a meeting,” said Austin, ”and I said it was important to keep on top of it and keep testing for air quality.”