Weeks of concerns and questions surrounding at culminated Wednesday in an information forum held by school officials and representatives from multiple state and federal agencies.
Fifty to 60 parents and citizens came to the first of two forums held in the gym of , where officials addressed the issue and answered questions.
The main concern with parents appeared to be how exposure to PCBs -- a mixture of chemicals that have been used as coolants and lubricants for electrical equipment -- .
While PCBs are classified as probable carcinogens to humans, the levels found at Osborn Hill (the highest were found in the gym) will unlikely cause adverse short-term or long-term effects, according to Brian Toal, a representative from the state Department of Health.
That's because the levels of PCBs found ins Osborn Hill School are "209 times below" the rate that the Environmental Protection Agency would consider harmful to humans, Toal said.
People are exposed to PCBs in the air every day, so the levels the students were exposed to were only slightly more than their "background," daily exposure, he added.
Still, Toal and all the officials present at the forum acknowledged the elevated levels of PCBs are "not a good thing, and we can work to get the levels down."
"We can control exposure at Osborn Hill School for the future," Toal said.
Currently, the gym -- considered the primary source of PCBs -- is sealed off while specialists work on cleaning the rest of the affected areas.
Sealing the gym has helped lower the rates in classrooms and corridors, according to Jason Pringle of the testing firm AMC Environmental. But officials still don't know whether the rest of Osborn Hill School will be ready to open for the first day of school -- Aug. 30.
If it's not ready, students in kindergarten through third grade will go to Holy Family School on Stratfield. Fourth and fifth grade students will go to St. Emory's School. The district is planning on providing bussing, lunch, and all the usual programming at those schools while Osborn Hill is still closed.
Officials hope the time spent in the separate schools will be short, but they said it was hard to tell how long the gym would be sealed off.
Should students start the school year at Osborn Hill or relocate back at some point in the next few months, school officials have alternate plans for physical education time. In good weather it can be held outside, and the district is also looking into a portable classroom or a tented gym, Arnone said.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. David G. Title said the decision on whether to open Osborn Hill for Aug. 30 depends on the results that come back once a round of specialized cleaning is finished. The decision will have to be made by Aug. 24, he said.
If the school can't open, Arnone assured parents that officials would do all they can to maintain a community feel for students, staff, and parents.
"There are all kinds of things we would be sharing to maintain a community feel for our students," Arnone said.