Parents demand radon answers | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Parents demand radon answers

Charles Sizemore

Parents of Zephyr Cove Elementary students want answers. And if they don’t get them, they may go as far as pulling their children out of school on Monday.

A list of questions has been sent to Douglas County School District Superintendent Carol Lark regarding radon — an invisible, odorless radioactive gas — at the school.

The questions were sent by Greg Felton, whose 9-year-old son, Aubrey, is a student at Zephyr Cove. The questions, and the issue of radon at Zephyr Cove as a whole, will be addressed by Lark and others at a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at George Whittell High School.

What Felton and other parents want is a commitment on behalf of the school district to safety — an acknowledgment that there is a problem and a clear plan for making the school safe.

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“We need to take an aggressive stance on solving this problem,” Felton said.

If the Douglas County School District can’t offer Felton and other parents a clear plan for making their children’s school safe, then many are prepared to take their children out of Zephyr Cove Elementary on Monday.

“If there’s not a pretty solid timeline, we’re prepared to pull our kids out,” Chapman said.

Heather Howell has two sons at Zephyr Cove, Benjamin, 8, and Griffin, 5. Howell drafted a letter for parents to sign, pledging to hold their children from school Monday if the district had not taken appropriate measures, namely accepting the help of the Nevada State Health Department, a deadline for successful remediation and an alternative plan if remediation efforts are unsuccessful. However, nothing is set in stone.

“We’re in a holding pattern to see what happens at the Oct. 3 meeting,” Howell said.

Howell expressed a hope that parents and the district can come together to solve the problem of radon at Zephyr Cove Elementary.

“I want to have faith in the school district to do the right thing,” Howell added.

So far, Howell estimates she has 20 signatures from parents who have anywhere from one to three children at Zephyr Cove.

The district has been working with Alex Haartz, an administrator with the Nevada State Health Division, and Adrianne Howe, radiation physicist with the radiological health sector of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. The two health officials recommended Dirk Roper, owner of Fallon Heating and Air Conditioning in Carson City and a certified radon testing and mitigation expert, to work with the district on the radon found at Zephyr Cove Elementary.

Haartz, Howe and Roper will be present at Wednesday’s meeting to help explain radon, its effects, testing and remediation.

Nancy Cauley, principal of Zephyr Cove Elementary School, seemed confident that the issue would be resolved to the satisfaction of parents, students, teachers and administration. Cauley meets today with Roper and a district office representative to discuss the questions raised by parents and to discuss the district’s plan of action and a timeline for remediation.

“I’m confident that Mrs. Lark and the district office are moving forward,” Cauley said.

Lark will address the parents’ questions at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I want to make sure that the number one for the Douglas County School District is the safety of our students,” Lark said.

Lark received the latest radon test results, based upon recommendations made by the Nevada State Health Division, on Friday, and plans on sharing the results with the public at the meeting. In the meantime, Lark continues to work closely with parents to bring about a solution satisfactory to all.

“I’m confident that when we work together we’ll find a viable solution,” Lark said.

Over on the California side, the Lake Tahoe Unified District is also taking a look at radon levels at their schools. At a Sept. 25 school board meeting, school board President Barbara Bannar referenced some articles in the Tribune about the radon levels found at Zephyr Cove Elementary, and asked Facilities Director Steve Morales to check on radon at LTUSD sites, and to report back to the school board at their next meeting on Oct. 9.

Morales said Monday that he is putting together a report regarding radon at LTUSD sites, and its effects on the school district, to present to the board on Oct. 9. Morales said that no LTUSD sites have been tested for radon levels.


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