PALMER, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- We are now getting a look inside Palmer High School, which is still shutdown after a fire over the weekend.

The target date for students returning to class is March 25.

"Sixty members in there cleaning, working 7 to 7, another crew is coming in working through the night," said Palmer High principal Susan North

Days after a fire at Palmer High, the school remains closed and now, for the first time, we're seeing why with an exclusive look inside at the cleanup efforts.

"In about three-quarters of the areas in the school, if you run your hand across a flat surface, it's black. Anything that is porous has to be thrown away because it's a carcinogen, so things in lockers that kids have left there. If it can be salvaged, the company is going to tell us. They have a hygienist who comes in and swabs individual items," said Palmer School Supt. Patricia Gardner.

North added, "In a lot of the classes, it's the materials that need to be discarded because they are ruined by the soot and fire."

Improper disposal of linseed oil soaked rags is to blame for the fire.

"Millions of dollars in cleanup because of an error, doing something that really goes against our protocols," Gardner explained.

Both the superintendent and principal told Western Mass News the bottomline is the well-being of their students and staff.

"It is extremely important everything is safe for our students and for the staff before the school opens," North added.

Further proof that the school is just not ready for students and staff yet is that the fire alarm is going off and the workers inside are going right out.

In the meantime, the lost school days will mean changes for students when they do come back.

"Twenty-five more minutes will be added to the school day. We've also changed the transition time, which is during the school day. Usually, it's four minutes down to two minutes and the overall number we are extending instructional time is 33 minutes," North explained.

Gardner is also asking the state to waive three days from the school year. Otherwise, it could mean coming in on a Saturday, which nobody wants.

"We just find it incredibly unfair to ask students and teachers to come to school six days a week, especially this time of year, you know. If this were earlier in the year, we'd have so many more options. At this point, it's just not there," Gardner said.

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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