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Parents In Blast Zone Seek Reassurance On School Safety As Kids Prepare To Head Back

More than two weeks of parental worry were on display Monday night in Downsview, where mothers and fathers of the hundreds of children that attend Madonna Catholic Secondary School in the shadows of what was once a Sunrise Propane location peppered officials with safety concerns days before school starts for another year.

Maria Christina, a 10-year-old student at St. Norbert Catholic — another school near the blast site — is already nervous about her first day. After fleeing her home during the explosion at Sunrise two Sundays previous, she, like her parents, worries her school may be unsafe.

“Are they ready to let the kids back into the school?” wonders her mother, Filomena Pegorer. “That’s my main concern, is the safety of my child.”

To ease those concerns the Toronto Catholic District School Board organized a meeting for parents and staff at Madonna, with a second meeting set for Tuesday inside St. Norbert’s gym.

Both facilities suffered broken windows and cracks during the explosions, but air quality tests and cleanup efforts conducted since the dreadful day have led school board officials to insist classes can safely resume.

“We want to assure our parents, if there were any safety concerns whatsoever we would not be opening,” TCDSB rep Mary Jo Deighan maintains.

Still, despite the assurances, seven law firms representing area residents have joined forces in a lawsuit against Sunrise Propane and the city.

Councillor Maria Augimeri has planned a community walk-about in an effort to renew the sense of security in the area.

“The community has sustained a terrible shock,” she admitted. “And it will take time to readjust.”