Just before the start of the school term for tens of thousands of pupils in the UK, shock news has come that many schools will be closed. In just a few days, the number has gone from about a dozen to now several hundred schools, British media reports say, at least partially shutting down their operations.
The reason is that the schools are built with lightweight concrete called RAAC (Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete), which is now found to be prone to collapse without warning.
The British government says it was caused by the sudden collapse of several roof plates that appeared to be in good condition.
“We do not believe that buildings with RAAC should continue to remain open without additional security measures,” the UK government said in a statement on Thursday. Guardian.
– This may shock and cause disruption, but the safety of students, pupils and staff is our priority.
It is unclear how many schools have been affected
There is still uncertainty about how many schools were built with concrete, but so far it has been confirmed that at least 156 schools were involved. The government announced on Thursday that 52 schools had already had to close parts of their operations, and 104 were “environmentally” affected.
British Education Minister Nick Gibb said on Friday Sky News In most cases only “certain buildings” or rooms in schools have to be closed, but “in some cases it is the whole school”.
He also said that there was no time to contact all the affected schools.
About 20 schools have been built with RAAC of such a large size that all the students and teachers have to be shifted to the temporary campus. But even more students are required to teach remotely for anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.
The national union representing teachers in the UK NEU has called the situation “absolutely disgraceful” and has warned it is a “massive disruption to the education of thousands of children”.
Hospital buildings are also built in the same material
Later on Thursday evening, the government office confirmed that similar types of concrete had been found in 34 public buildings.
At least 24 of those are hospital complexes that have used RAAC in all or major parts of their construction. Seven of these should be fully reconstructed before 2030.
RAAC concrete is widely used in schools, but also other buildings, built between 1950 and 1990 and has an estimated service life of about 30 years. Compared to traditional concrete, RAAC is weak.
RAAC is still produced in hundreds of factories around the world and is still used as a construction material in many countries, said Chris Goodyear, professor of construction engineering and materials at Loughborough University. BBC.
– Britain seems to be at the forefront of awareness of the problem, he tells the BBC.
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