OAKLAND (CBS SF) — McClymonds High students, force to temporarily relocate from their school because of the discovery of a dangerous chemical in the groundwater under their campus, have been reunited after spending nearly two weeks divided up between three other Oakland schools, officials said.
Oakland Unified School District officials said the high school students will now be housed all together on the Ralph Bunche Academy campus.
“It was important to reunite McClymonds students so that all students — especially seniors — can access classes required for college and dual-enrollment,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “Additionally, the interim space allows us to continue inclusive programming for students with special needs. We also saw an opportunity to minimize the impact on other schools.”
A group of McClymonds students had already been using classrooms at Ralph Bunche, a school that specializes teaching students the skills needed for careers in the culinary, hospitality and tourism industry. Other McClymonds students were being housed at Oakland Middle School and the Westlake Middle/MetWest Ericka Huggins Campus.
The Ralph Bunche students were relocated to Oakland Middle School.
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Johnson-Trammell said the large scale movement of students came because it’s still unclear when the school district will receive final test results from the McClymonds campus.
“We appreciate all the students and staff members at the school sites who have had very limited time to make significant shifts to effect these changes,” said Johnson-Trammell.
The discovery of the chemical compound, trichloroethylene (TCE), in the groundwater under the McClymonds campus in February forced officials to shut down access to the high school. Tests have been underway to fully test the air across the campus to ensure that it is safe.
State environmental health officials have swarmed over the school, conducting air testing at roughly 50 locations around the campus, including every classroom.
“We trust this data, but we view it as screening data,” California Department of Toxic Substances Control engineer Cheryl Prowell said. “We really want to see the data from the analytical laboratory before we say with certainty, because the analytical laboratory is a certified method … We don’t have the same level of scrutiny on this field screening method.”
Officials said preliminary testing results have shown that no TCE in the air in any location in the school where people gather. The only place where it was found was in the sump in the boiler room under the school. But even in that room, experts say, it was not present in the air at breathing levels.
Currently, district officials were awaiting results from final testing that was completed last week.
“Unfortunately, some people have walked away from this situation feeling like the District will use it to close McClymonds permanently,” Johnson-Trammell said. “That could not be further from the truth. McClymonds is an important part of our District with deep history in its neighborhood. It is a pillar of the West Oakland community. No one in OUSD wants to, or has any plans to, close McClymonds.”