Radon exposure in school on Navajo Nation causes classes to remain remote

The Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation with portions in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, has more than 500 abandoned uranium mines.

ASSOCIATED PRESS | 2:53 pm MST August 17, 2021

A return to in-person classes at a Navajo Nation school will be on hold indefinitely because of unknown radiation levels, likely caused by decades of uranium mining.

Cody M. Begaye, spokesman for the Navajo Nation Department of Dine Education, said the presence of radioactive hotspots inside Cove Day School in Red Valley near the Arizona-Utah border recently came to their attention. It's one of dozens of schools operated by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education.

The tribe's Health, Education, and Human Services Committee met with other agencies, including the BIE (Bureau of Indian Education) on Monday to discuss why they were not discovered earlier. While it's not clear how high the levels are, they were enough to concern tribe officials.

The school's 44 students and 13 staff were already working remotely when classes resumed earlier this month. Staff have been using another school nearby, the Red Rock Day School, for essential work like preparing meals to deliver to students. Uranium contamination is an ongoing issue for Cove Day School, which serves students in kindergarten through third grade. A 2019 sample study led by Division of Facilities Management and Construction found five outdoor areas, including a playground, with contaminated soil. Read More

Source: The Arizona Republic

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