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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As the New Year begins there’s a different campus for students attending Sarah Zumwalt Middle School in east Oak Cliff. Health and safety concerns resulted in students reporting to a another campus today.
The middle of the year switch-a-roo was made after major concerns were raised about mold and the air quality inside Zumwalt.
Starting this morning, students will be bussed a little more than a mile away, from Zumwalt to A. Maceo Smith New Tech High School, where they’ll stay for the rest of the year. Officials would like to have the kids back in their own school by August, but that might not be possible. The move affects about 450 students.
While Dallas Independent School District (DISD) officials say there’s no immediate danger at Zumwalt, there is an urgent need for renovations at the school.
Unacceptable air quality levels and mold problems have plagued the school for some time. Now the DISD is spending nearly $6 million to replace the heating and ventilation system and make infrastructure repairs.
Students had remained on the campus until winter break, with air purifier systems in use and areas where airborne mold counts exceeded acceptable levels cordoned off.
Last month, student Alberto Luciano said the situation had been like that, on and off, for the past year. “It was only the first floor,” he said. “They had blocked everything and some classrooms were shut down too.”
Before Christmas break, parent Shon Morgan also voiced her concerns. “This could be health hazardous,” she said. “If it’s important [enough] to move the children from one place to another, it’s something serious. I feel like all parents need to be notified ahead time about what’s happening.”
Bus drivers held a practice run to A. Maceo Smith yesterday. Dallas County Schools added two more buses to the route to help with the transition. But it wasn’t a smooth ride for everyone. Kids, parents and even some bus drivers didn’t seem to know where the bus pickup was located. Some buses circled to make sure that kids were not left behind. “It’s a lot of confusion,” said parent Ricky Shelby. “You don’t know where to take your kid to get on the bus at, so I had to bring her here.”
A number of parents opted to just drive their kids to the A. Maceo Smith campus instead. Going forward, Dallas County Schools is saying that all kids who need a ride should meet on Veterans Drive. Kids who are normally picked up in their neighborhoods should continue to do so.
Students shouldn’t see any schedule changes, since anyone who goes to after school programs will still have a ride. Parents also expressed concerns about their middle schoolers being at the same campus with high school students, but the Zumwalt kids are being kept on a different floor.
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