Ranchos middle school on track for Tuesday reopening
Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School teachers began to return to classrooms Thursday to prepare for the school’s reopening next week.
Principal Robin Pedrett said that a staff meeting had been held to give teachers up-to-date information about the liquid mercury levels.
Some teachers in three pods at the Gardnerville Ranchos school are setting up their classrooms, beginning to prepare for exams, and getting notes ready for students who may have lost them during the decontamination process, Pedrett said.
“They’re happy to be back. They understand the mercury-level readings, and they feel confident the building is ready to go,” she said. “They’re all positive and all want to get back just like our students want to get back.”
One portion of the school, mainly E Pod, is still waiting clearance from Environmental Protection Agency officials. The highest levels of liquid mercury contamination were found in classrooms in that wing.
Carpeting in that area has been pulled up. It will be replaced later in the school year.
Teachers with classrooms still waiting EPA approval are not allowed to return. Pedrett said the district was waiting for air results on Thursday and that Lumox air quality-testing machines were arriving.
“Once we get those readings, we’re going to be ready to go,” she said.
Douglas County School District Superintendent John Soderman said the student who brought the quarter-cup of liquid mercury to school will begin a 10-day suspension after school resumes, which is slated for Tuesday.
The school has been closed since the student brought the mercury to school on a bus on Jan. 6.
Soderman said “better information” will determine whether the student should go back to school after the suspension ends or come before the school board for an expulsion hearing.
Maggie O’Neill can be reached at mo’email@example.com or 782-5121, ext. 214.