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Kansas school evacuated because of asbestos

Published: Dec. 19, 2016 at 9:10 PM CST
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Students were evacuated from a Kansas school Monday because of asbestos. Everyone at Yates Center Elementary and Middle School was taken to the high school Monday, and they won't be back to school until after winter break.

"Something started...falling from the ceiling to the floor, so they put caution signs," said Caleb Kobel, a fifth grader at the school.

The students get to start their holiday break two days early.

Caleb said he was heading to lunch when he saw something fall from above.

"We were feeling kind of scared, and like everyone was saying what's happening? What is that stuff," said Caleb.

Superintendent Greg Brown said some staff noticed it was coming loose in the multi-purpose room.

"Before the middle school lunch shift, my principal and one of the other workers there for the lunch shift noticed some of the asbestos was down on the floor," said Brown.

Brown said the district has been working to remove the asbestos over the last several years, taking regular measures to remove more and more of it each year. He said they didn't expect something like this to happen, so staff cleared the building and took students to the high school.

"We saw that there was like... looked like dust on the floor, and we all started reacting like crazily," said Caleb.

Parents said the district sent messages through voicemail, email and text to inform parents.

"I'm a little uneasy about it right now," said Caleb's mom, Bonnie Stoldt. "We had an incident about a year and a half ago with the same thing, so I'm just really hoping that it gets taken care of this time."

Brown said the previous time was when a ball hit the ceiling and knocked asbestos loose, but he said that was an isolated incident.

"This time I think they handled it properly," said Stoldt. "They evacuated the kids."

Brown said a consultant is coming to the school Tuesday to help them come up with a plan to move forward. He said after that visit, he plans to contact KDHE.

KWCH called The KDHE, and they had not heard about the incident. The state said it does not track asbestos in schools but that most older buildings likely contain some. It's up to each district to decide whether to remove it.