EAST PALESTINE, OH- Nearly seven weeks after the train derailment in East Palestine, the high school chose to be proactive before the start of the spring sports season. Superintendent Chris Neifer and Athletic Directory Dwayne Pavkovich assembled representation from the County Health Board, Ohio EPA, Federal EPA as well as the Ohio Department of Health to hold a private Q&A session for Athletic Directors, Coaches, and Superintendents in neighboring and competing school districts to help raise awareness and help educate community leaders.
“Our kids work hard, they deserve the ability to participate in all of their extracurricular activities, and let’s face it- athletics is a big part of what we do in school districts- we want to make sure we provide our kids those experiences,” said Chris Neifer.
A crowd of nearly fifty gathered on Wednesday afternoon in East Palestine High School Auditorium. After opening statements were conducted, the attendees were allowed to ask questions that they could take the answers back to their communities.
A big topic of conversation was the level of comfort in those communities to visit East Palestine for events. “Those decisions were based on data for us, we talked with the experts…our Athletic Director is trying to get people here, and trying to assure people that it’s OK,” added Neifer.
During the meeting, Neifer added that track meets that typically host around 30 different schools were lingering in the area of 4 to 5, and now are nearing 20 schools with two weeks until the first meet.
Throughout the process, the EPA has given its seal of approval with the air, and water quality testing they have performed throughout the village. In the latest update, the EPA is reporting that over 7.4 million gallons of liquid wastewater have been hauled out of the village to date.
The entire decision process has been based around science and evidence from experts in their field and Chris Neifer has been in a number of meetings that have pointed to East Palestine being safe for residents and visitors. “We’ve based our decisions on those scientific facts, that it’s safe for our kids to be here. So if it’s safe to come to school, it’s certainly safe to participate in extracurricular activities afterward.”