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1,000 Students Still Don't Know When They Will Return To Class After 2 Philadelphia Schools Closed Due To Asbestos

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Despite a pair of town hall meetings with the Philadelphia School District, 1,000 students still don't know when they will return to class after two schools were shut down due to asbestos. School district administrators are now back at the drawing board as they attempt to develop what would be round two of contingency plans for students at Benjamin Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy.

At district town hall meetings within the last 24 hours, parents and students shot down initial ideas for alternate school locations at South Philadelphia and Strawberry Mansion High Schools.

The campus shared by Benjamin Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy has been closed for more than 10 days after construction work uncovered the presence of asbestos.

Top school officials have been on the defensive following resignation calls.

"Well I got news, I'm not resigning," Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. William Hite said during a contentious town hall meeting. "And the other thing is, I'm going to fix this. I'm going to fix this problem."

Hite said in a statement Tuesday that the district is still considering options for the relocation of the affected students.

"A task force of parents, teachers, students and administrators from both schools worked for many hours yesterday afternoon to discuss potential sites and resources required for a successful and smooth transition to new temporary locations. We are committed to working together to secure sites that are safe and comfortable for both school communities," Hite said in a statement.

Gailen Dejong-Dougherty is one of a couple hundred parents and students who are on edge and wanting answers about the asbestos issue. Her husband died after a sudden and brief bout with cancer, leaving her a single parent.

Her questions to district officials were pointed.

"Are you going to test these children? Is there anything we should be doing as parents? Are you going to go sit in there? Are your children going to go to school there? I mean, it's a big deal," she said.

The mother of two students provided CBS3 with emails from the school dated Sept. 4, when it appears asbestos had been remediated.

An official wrote, "It is important to note that extensive asbestos abatement work was completed throughout the building. Asbestos testing was conducted and all areas passed inspection. All asbestos testing reports will be made available online."

Just three weeks later, the campus was shuttered when more asbestos was apparently discovered during a massive construction project.

The timing could not be worse for Dejong-Dougherty and her sons.

"We lost my husband and their father less than a year ago, and so we were trying to get to a rhythm of establishing a new normal and this is really a challenge on a lot of levels for us," she said.

Students and parents can find the latest from the school district here.

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