Oakland's McClymonds High School safe to return to, months after chemical scare, district says

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland's McClymonds High School is now safe for students and staff to return to after a months-long closure because of a toxic chemical found in groundwater on the campus.

The school first closed in February, just weeks before classroom instruction was halted because of COVID-19.

The campus has gone through several rounds of testing and air purifiers have been installed, making the high school safe for students to return to, a district official announced Friday afternoon.

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John Sasaki, a spokesman for the Oakland Unified School District, said this is "very good news."

When they do return, students can feel safe learning on campus and taking part in athletics, he said.

The chemical TCE, or trichloroethylene, was first discovered in February.

VIDEO: School officials hold press conference in February on chemical discovery


School officials said at the time the compound was not found in the school's drinking water.

TCE is a solvent used for industrial cleanup and the concern was that it was vaporizing and creating a health hazard for students in staff inside the school.

The Oakland high school was built in 1915.

The TCE incident is just the latest scare for the community in and around McClymonds.

In 2008, student testing found high levels of lead around the schools. And in 2017, the East Bay Municipal Utility District found lead contamination in the drinking water, from dated metal fixtures.

McClymonds High School is located at 2607 Myrtle Street in Oakland.

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