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A student walks out of McGill hall on Jan. 16, 2019. The building houses several offices, the ASUM preschool, and the media arts program. 

Officials at the University of Montana set March 1 as the tentative reopening of McGill Hall following asbestos abatement and repairs.

After being told that the building may reopen within a week at a forum held last Thursday, Feb. 7, students, professors and staff will remain in temporary work spaces throughout campus until at least March 1.

“We pushed the date back a few weeks for repairs and remediation,” UM spokesperson Paul Short said.

The announcement comes twelve days after the University shuttered McGill Hall. Asbestos tests showed dangerous levels throughout the building on surfaces, but not in air samples. Although given a brief window of time to collect personal items, the closure forced staff, students and professors to find temporary offices and classrooms.

McGill Hall accommodated both the Media Arts and Health and Human Performance programs, as well as the ASUM Child Care preschool. The University closed the preschool Jan. 29 and moved the children to the College of Education. Two days later, the entire building was closed.

While tests of the air in McGill Hall showed no threatening level of asbestos fibers, samples taken from surfaces the preschool and throughout the building showed fiber counts well above federal safety standards.

Surface tests at a second child care facility on campus prompted its closure as well. The children in that facility joined others at the College of Education.

According to a report released Feb. 8, samples taken from the Craighead Child Care in the University Villages contained asbestos fibers over 10 times the safety threshold set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Until March 1, work crews in McGill Hall will clean and seal tiles that contain asbestos and repair any damaged plumbing insulation that may have released asbestos dust said Short.

“They’ll be working from the top floor down to make sure that the building’s safe,” she said.