Pupils kept off school in asbestos leak fears

St Joseph's Catholic Primary, Rigby Street
St Joseph's Catholic Primary, Rigby Street
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Hundreds of children were told to stay away from school after a health and safety scare.

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary in Preston was closed for the day before the start of half term amid fears of an asbestos leak. It is understood that the problem arose when a workman putting up a smoke alarm in the school kitchen is believed to have drilled into the material.

Breakfast and after school clubs were also cancelled.

However, the 315-pupil school was open to nursery and reception class pupils- though they were told to take in sandwiches because no hot meals would be prepared.

One mum, who did not wish to be named, said: “We got a letter at short notice saying the school would be closed for the day. No explanation.”

She said the noted added it was “imperative to have this closure on health and safety grounds.”

The Rigby Street premises is one of many schools across Lancashire which were built using asbestos.

Experts say the material is safe as long as it is “not disturbed.”

However, headteacher Gerry O’Brien, said: “Our site supervisor raised concerns after realising that some minor drilling work in the kitchen area on Wednesday was in a part of the ceiling containing asbestos.

“We had to make a quick decision and felt it was best to close the school on Thursday to be on the safe side.

“The issue was quickly resolved with the support of the county council and the building was made completely safe for pupils to return.

“Lancashire County Council was able to issue an asbestos safety certificate once the necessary checks had been completed.

“The issue was quickly resolved and the building is completely safe for pupils to return. “He added that an an explanatory letter was being sent home to parents today.

Mr O’Brien added: “We will be working with our contractors and the county council to investigate what happened.”

The majority of schools which were built before 2000 have asbestos in them but although carcogenic, it is deemed safe if contained.