Update, Nov. 27:

Both playgrounds remain closed after Monday’s soil tests found that contamination remained following last weekend’s initial cleanup.

The school district plans to remove this additional contaminated soil on Saturday, Dec. 7, Superintendent Mike Cummings told the Jennings community in an email Wednesday morning. They will then re-test the soil again to determine if the playscapes are safe to re-open.

“We will continue to keep you updated on progress,” Cummings wrote to Jennings families. “Thank you again for your patience with this work, and Happy Thanksgiving.”

Nov. 25:

FAIRFIELD — Contractors have removed arsenic from soil at two playgrounds at Jennings Elementary School with plans to get the spaces re-opened by Thanksgiving.

After removing the soil, crews tested the ground Monday to confirm that all the contaminants were gone. The test results were expected to come in Tuesday.

If the soil is confirmed clean, officials said, the contractor will put in new clean soil and cover the area with wood chips, getting the playgrounds ready to re-open by Thanksgiving Day.

If tests come back showing remaining contamination, however, additional work will be required over the Thanksgiving weekend.

While all the town’s playgrounds were originally tested after concerns surfaced over the use of contaminated fill from the Julian-managed Public Works pile , there are no records of any of the pile’s material being used at Jennings.

But the testing did show the toxic metal at both Jennings playgrounds in October. The contamination, officials said, was traced to pressure-treating chemicals used in the playgrounds’ wood framings that leached into surrounding soil.

The framings, sometimes referred to as railroad timbers or railroad ties, are an older system used for bordering playgrounds. According to the EPA, chromated arsenicals, a chemical containing arsenic, was used from the 1970s to early 2000s to pressure-treat the majority of outdoor wood. As of December 2003, the EPA restricted the use of the chemicals.

Superintendent of Schools Mike Cummings said in an email to Jennings parents on Nov. 22 that contractors would be on site Saturday and Sunday removing the contaminated soil and framings from both affected playscapes.

The school district has contracted ACV Enviro to perform the work. While RED Technologies has been charged with cleanup at other town sites, bringing on an additional contractor has allowed cleanup to occur at multiple sites at once, Cummings said.

According to the site’s remedial action plan, the framings would be removed first, followed by the soil immediately surrounding the framings at a depth of two to three feet. The soil was to be excavated and dumped at a certified off-site facility.

Cummings told the Board of Education Nov. 21 that they would need to remove about 250 tons of soil.

“It’s railroad cars full of soil,” Cummings said. “It’s an extensive project.”

The remediation approach, designed by licensed environmental professional Tighe and Bond, was reviewed by the state Department of Health and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Cummings also confirmed to the Board of Education that the town still intends to foot the bill for the cleanup. The Board of Finance had previously set aside $1.8 million for testing and cleanup at the seven contaminated town sites discovered this summer.

Cummings told parents that the playgrounds would be fenced off during cleanup, and an environmental consultant would be present to monitor air quality levels. He also asked families to avoid the school grounds over the weekend while work was performed.

“Many thanks to the Jennings community for their patience during this process,” Cummings wrote to parents. “It took too long.”

Cleanup is ongoing at Gould Manor Park and Burroughs Park. Plans are also in the works for removing contaminants found at Mill Hill Elementary School, Jennings Beach Playground, Old Dam Road and McKinley Elementary School’s former playground.

Readers can follow cleanup progress via Hearst Connecticut Media’s breakdown and map of sites.

rscharf@hearstmediact.com