Universal Vare remains closed due to asbestos

Photo: Google Maps
Universal Vare, Photo: Google Maps

Universal Vare will have a temporary location while asbestos removal continues at its normal South Philly location.

School officials announced that Universal Vare STEM and Arts Charter School, which serves students grades 5-8, will not be ready when classes resume on Sept. 5, forcing the charter school to explore a different location at the School District of Philadelphia’s McDaniel Annex building at 1901 S. 23rd Street. It is located just a few blocks from Vare, which is at 2100 S. 24th Street in Grays Ferry. The Board of Education is expected to approve the temporary location at its meeting on August 17. 

Universal Schools notified parents and staff in a letter last week of the potential change.

“We wish to thank you for your flexibility and patience while the School District of Philadelphia and Universal Vare Charter School work collaboratively to identify a temporary location for Universal Vare for the 2023-2024 School Year,” the statement said. “We are very excited that we have identified the School District of Philadelphia’s McDaniel Annex building to house the scholars and staff of Universal Vare at 1901 South 23rd Street. If approved by the Board of Education at their meeting on August 17th, this site will be the temporary location for all Universal Vare Scholars and staff. The annex environment is safe and will be welcoming for all scholars on the first day of school, September 5, 2023.”

The registration process begins Monday and the school will host a virtual parent meeting on August 18 to address any questions. In addition, an open house is scheduled for August 28, from 5-7 p.m., to provide parents, guardians, and scholars with the opportunity to see the school building and classrooms and receive an overview of the academic program. 

In April, asbestos fiber release episodes were identified during a required routine three-year inspection conducted by the School District of Philadelphia under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act. 

A fiber release episode is any uncontrolled or unintentional disturbance of asbestos containing material resulting in a visible emission, and which must be addressed prior to re-occupancy. 

As a result, the Universal Vare Building, which was built in 1924, is temporarily closed. Students finished the 2022-23 school year by taking virtual instruction.