In the latest twist for the Tisbury School students, superintendent Matthew D’Andrea announced in a letter to parents Monday afternoon that kindergarten through fourth graders will no longer be relocated to Camp Jabberwocky, but will instead be sequestered to classrooms in the newer section of the school that was constructed without the use of lead.

Administrators last week reported that Tisbury school students and staff would have to be relocated after Massachusetts Department of Health testing revealed chipping lead paint in portions of the old building that dates to 1929. In response, Mr. D’Andrea and the school board sketched out an initial remediation plan to move younger students to Camp Jabberwocky, while fifth through eight grade students would use the regional high school facility until they arrived at a long-term solution. Those plans changed Monday.

“After consultation with town and state officials, we have decided that there is a better option,” Mr. D’Andrea’s letter reads in part. “The newer section of the school was constructed in 1993, thus no lead was used. We were able to isolate this section of the school, with the help of certified professionals, and will ensure that children will not be in areas that have lead paint. Kindergarten through fourth grade classes will be relocated to this section of the building.”

According to the letter, the Tisbury emergency services building across the street from the school will be used as a cafeteria.

Grades five through eight will still use the high school. There will be separate orientations for the two sets of students, but dates for those orientations were not yet provided.

In the letter, Mr. D’Andrea asserted that all fifth through eighth-grade Tisbury students would be accompanied by an adult during their time in the high school, and that students would use separate classrooms, separate bathrooms, have a separate time schedule, and access the building through the Culinary Arts Dining Room. The dining room would also function as a separate lunchroom for the Tisbury students.

“Classrooms will be grouped together and isolated from the rest of the school as much as possible,” Mr. D’Andrea wrote in part.

He further said that Tisbury assistant principal Melissa Ogden would be stationed at the high school, along with a school secretary and a nurse.

While students at the other four Island grammar schools are gearing up for a Sept. 3 start date, Mr. D’Andrea maintained in the letter that the Tisbury students will not begin classes until Sept. 9. In the interim, administrators have arranged for childcare for kindergarten through fifth-graders from Sept. 3 through Sept. 6 at the YMCA, with hours ranging from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. To arrange childcare, Mr. D’Andrea instructed parents to contact Nina Lombardi at 508-696-7171.

Although further details about the immediate consequences of the lead testing remain unclear, such as a timeline or cost estimate for remediation, Mr. D’Andrea did say the town is working on procuring modular classrooms to house the school while administrators seek a permanent solution to the lead paint problem. Modular classrooms are temporary, portable classrooms that can be built adjacent to school sites.

“We are working expeditiously to construct these classrooms on the current site. Any lead remediation will NOT begin until all grades are safely housed in the modular classrooms,” Mr. D’Andrea wrote.

Mr. D’Andrea said in the letter that while the school had known about the lead paint issue for a long time, the rate of deterioration has rapidly increased in recent years. He said that the state Department of Public Health has advised the school to clean all chipping paint, regardless of whether it contains lead.

In response to the report, school administrators have since organized a trio of meetings this Tuesday to deal with the short-term consequences of remediation. The Up-Island Regional School district has a meeting scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the high school, with the question of re-opening school choice as an agenda item. Immediately after that meeting, at 5 p.m., the regional high school committee has a meeting to discuss Tisbury students using the high school facility. And then the Tisbury school committee is holding a joint meeting with town selectmen at the emergency services facility at 6 p.m.

When reached by phone earlier Monday, Tisbury school principal John Custer said he hoped there would be more answers than questions after the meetings tomorrow.

“I’m not naive to think we’ll have 100 per cent of things squared away,” Mr. Custer said. “But hopefully we’ll be closer than we are right now. We owe it to everyone.”