Another topic focused on in the exclusive teacher survey on Channel 3 was the condition of schools across the state.

According to teachers, some schools are falling apart and making students, teachers, and staff members sick.

Channel 3 even got some disturbing photos, showing classrooms with mold, ceilings that are rusting, and air vents that are extremely dirty.

“You expect the school system is doing everything they can to keep them safe in the class and unfortunately that’s not always the case,” said Robert Camacho, a parent of two children who attend the Montessori Magnet School at Batchelder in Hartford.

“We found out in November that the school was built around the time using materials containing PCB’s, and we were concerned then and we want the school to test to show our children are safe in school,” Camacho said.

Hartford’s John C. Clark Elementary School was shut down five years ago due to high levels of PCB’s.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to high levels of PCB’s could cause skin conditions, liver damage, and possibly cancer.

“We should be making sure that when our children go to school, they are in the best, healthiest environment that is possible,” Camacho said.

Unhealthy classrooms aren’t just an issue in Hartford, but across the state.

“The idea that our schools, in many cases, are less safe than they should be in terms of their atmosphere, air quality and things like that, is a huge concern and it’s making both students and teachers ill,” said Jeff Leake, president of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA).

As part of the one-of-a-kind survey, Channel 3 partnered with the CEA and American Federation of Teachers Connecticut, the two teacher unions in the state.

The survey was sent to Connecticut’s 50,000 public school teachers, with close to 1,500 teachers responding.

In some photos that were provided, you could see mold growing on a wall at a Stamford school, and more mold is seen when a ceiling tile is lifted.

In a Naugatuck school, stains can’t be missed on ceiling tiles surrounding a vent. Dust was also seen glued on a classroom ceiling from an air vent.

At Norwalk High School, a leaky ceiling caused rust, mold and paint to chip.

Another picture shows some type of leak stained ceiling tiles. Some tiles also haven’t been replaced, which is exposing pipes.

While just more than half say environmental conditions are impacting teaching and learning, 85 percent of teachers experience hot and cold conditions in their classrooms.

More than 900 teachers weighed in, showing the highest of any topic in the survey explaining what they’re dealing with, with things like a gas smell, extreme dust, backup from sewage, and more.

“They need a lot of regular maintenance and that maintenance is often deferred in reduced budget years and it’s impossible to catch up to,” said Mary Yordon.

Eighty-seven percent of teachers said they have reported the issues to school administrators.

Teachers say some of these problems have gotten resolved but some do not.

While repairs can be pricey, union leaders say the long-term effects could be much worse.

“What’s expensive is when you ignore the year to year regular maintenance that’s required in our school building, and then you have some huge cost because you’ve been ignoring that all these years. In addition to that, you have health costs in terms of workers compensation for staff and educators, but we are still, long term health consequences for children who are exposed to these harmful environmental conditions,” said Don Williams, executive director of the CEA.

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