Environmental Issue

Environmental issues discovered at three Holland Public School buildings

Remediation firm is beginning work to address the issue;  no prior risk to students, faculty and staff

HOLLAND, Mich. (August 7, 2019) On August 2, Holland Public Schools district administrators learned of mold spore colonization at the district’s Holland Language Academy (HLA), 461 Van Raalte Avenue. Following the discovery, Superintendent Brian Davis immediately closed the building to allow for further testing by Summit Laboratory and to begin plans for remediation.

Because the remediation at HLA will be extensive and will require several weeks to complete, the district will relocate HLA classes and programming to its currently-vacant Longfellow facility at 45 E. 25th Street for the 2019-2020 school year.

Officials have determined that the problem at HLA can be traced to the mid-July failure of the building’s HVAC system. The HVAC system was not functioning properly during an extended period of high temperatures and high relative humidity – a situation conducive to mold spore colonization. The building was not occupied during this period.

“Fortunately, based on expert assessment of the situation, we’ve determined that the issue started in July and no students, faculty or staff members were in the building during that time on a regular/consistent basis,” said Holland Public Schools Superintendent Brian Davis.

Summit was called in for testing at HLA after a contracted cleaning company reported potential air quality issues at the building on July 31.

The discovery at HLA prompted Davis to order environmental assessments at all district school buildings, including Longfellow.

The subsequent assessments and testing were conducted by Summit on August 2 – 5. It identified isolated, less serious mold growth in a few storage areas and on some carpet squares at Holland Heights Elementary and the Maplewood facility. These issues were also traced to poor circulation and hot, humid conditions in the crowded storage areas this summer.

Mold remediation is scheduled to begin on August 8 at these two buildings, but no air quality issues were reported, and the buildings can remain open.

Summit reported no air quality issues at other Holland Public School buildings, including Longfellow.

The district has contracted with Van Dam & Krusinga to conduct a thorough remediation of the entire Holland Language Academy building. The official remediation is set to begin on August 8 and, according to Van Dam & Krusinga, will include physical removal of any mold spores or colonization utilizing negative air pressure. The remediation team will use personal protective equipment during remediation. 

“We’re working with one of the best remediation teams in the region because the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff are our top priorities,” said Davis. “We are taking extra precautions at HLA to fix the current problem and eliminate the risk of future contamination. This includes removal and replacement of all carpeting and other textiles throughout the building, whether or not they show signs of spore colonization.”

Van Dam & Krusinga will also handle the isolated remediation work at Holland Heights and Maplewood. That work will be completed by August 19, in time for the scheduled start of classes and programming in those facilities.

Finally, Van Dam & Krusinga will conduct a deep cleaning at the Longfellow building to prepare it for occupancy of the HLA program later this month.

“We are confident that our partners at Summit and Van Dam & Krusinga are providing expert, science-based information and remediation services and, together with our dedicated faculty and staff, will help ensure a smooth and safe start to the school year,” said Davis.

The superintendent and administrative team have notified or met with Holland Public Schools building administrators, faculty and staff from the affected schools, central office staff, teachers’ union representatives and OAISD Superintendent Peter Haines. Notifications are being sent out today to HLA and other district families, as well as districtwide faculty and staff.

Superintendent Davis will host an informational meeting for all Holland Language Academy parents and guardians on August 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the performing arts center at Holland High School.  All HLA parents and guardians are encouraged to attend this informative discussion and Q&A session with Dr. Davis and representatives from Summit Laboratory and Van Dam & Krusinga.

About Holland Public Schools: Holland Public Schools is a K-12 urban school district located in the city of Holland serving a diverse, multilingual student body with educational excellence, a compassionate staff, leading-edge programs and the support of a committed community. The district’s mission is to embrace, engage, and empower each student for success in an ever-changing world. Learn more at hollandpublicschools.org.

 

District Communication for all Faculty, Staff, and Parents of HPS

Notification of environmental issues at three Holland Public buildings

On July 31, Holland Public Schools administration received reports from our contracted cleaning company that there may be an air quality issue related to spore colinization at Holland Language Academy. We immediately contracted with an independent firm to conduct an environmental assessment, and they confirmed on August 2 that there is widespread mold spore colonization in the building.

The building has been closed to allow for further testing and thorough remediation. The remediation process will eliminate the colonization of spores and any air quality issues that it has caused.

Importantly, we can confidently report that the problem began last month, so no students, faculty or staff were exposed to mold in the HLA building during the 2018-2019 school year.

The spore colonization can be traced to a failure of the HVAC control system in the building in mid-July, when the building was not occupied. This climate control system failure was coupled with a week of extremely high temperatures and high relative humidity – a situation that can quickly lead to spore colonization.

Upon learning of the problems at HLA, Superintendent Davis ordered immediate air quality testing at all Holland Public School buildings. Summit found some isolated mold in a few storage facilities and on some carpet squares at Holland Heights and Maplewood. These issues can be traced to poor circulation and hot, humid conditions in crowded storage areas this summer. Summit found no air quality issues at those buildings, so they can remain open through remediation.

Summit Laboratory reported that no other HPS school facilities have mold or air quality issues.

We will post regular updates about this situation on the district website. If you have any questions about this situation in the meantime, please email Mr Davis or call him at (616) 494-2005.

FAQ

When will remediation at these facilities begin, and how long will it take?

  • Official remediation will begin on August 8 and will include physical removal of any mold spores or colonization utilizing negative air pressure.  Remediation at HLA is expected to take several weeks, and the school will remain closed throughout the process. Remediation at Holland Heights and Maplewood will be complete by August 19. No air quality issues were reported at these two locations, so the buildings can remain open during remediation.

What health risks does this pose?

  • The molds discovered were penicillin and aspergillus which are known allergens and could cause histamine or allergic reactions when encountered in high enough concentrations. However, this spore colonization can be traced to failure of the building HVAC system in July and was not a threat at any time during the 2018-2019 school year.

Who conducted the testing and who will handle the remediation?

  • Summit Laboratory conducted the environmental assessment and testing, and Van Dam & Krusinga will handle the building remediation process.

Is the district moving Holland Language Academy classes and programming during the remediation?

  • Yes. Because the spore colonization is widespread at HLA, we are taking extra precautions to fix the current problem and eliminate the risk of future contamination throughout the building. This thorough remediation process is expected to take several weeks, so HLA classes and programming will be relocated to the former Longfellow facility. To minimize disruptions for students, faculty and staff, HLA programs will operate at Longfellow throughout the 2019-2020 school year. HLA parents have been notified that Superintendent Davis will host an informational meeting for all Holland Language Academy parents and guardians on August 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the performing arts center at Holland High School. 

Were any schools, other than HLA, Holland Heights and Maplewood affected?

  • Summit Laboratory reported that no other HPS school facilities have mold or air quality issues, including Longfellow. However, we have contracted with Van Dam & Krusinga to conduct a deep cleaning on the Longfellow building to prepare it for occupancy.

What can I do to help?

  • A meeting was held with HLA staff at Longfellow school on Wednesday, August 7, 2019. Obviously this is shocking news for any teacher to learn that they will have to relocate to another teaching facility and will not have access to any materials in the former classrooms. If you would like to assist with their room set up, shopping for school supplies, and any other activity related to the start of the school year, we welcome your support. Healthy snacks, beverages and lunch/dinner drop offs would also be appreciated by the staff. Please watch for a communication from the HEA on how you can participate in coordinated efforts.

Following the meeting with the HLA staff today, I am most confident that they will be prepared for the start of the school year with our help and support. I have never witnessed a more dedicated, compassionate and innovative group of individuals who are seizing this challenge as an opportunity.

District Communication for HLA Parents and Staff

Notification of HLA environmental issue and school building change

On July 31, Holland Public Schools administration received reports from our contracted cleaning company that there may be an air quality issue at Holland Language Academy. We immediately contracted with an independent firm to conduct an environmental assessment, and they confirmed on August 2 that there is widespread spore colonization in the building. There are also isolated areas of mold growth.

The building has been closed to allow for further testing and thorough remediation. The remediation process will eliminate the colonization of spores and any air quality issues that it has caused.

Importantly, we can confidently report that the problem began last month, so no students, faculty or staff were exposed to mold in the HLA building during the 2018-2019 school year.

The spore colonization can be traced to a failure of the HVAC control system in the building in mid-July, when the building was not occupied. This climate control system failure was coupled with a week of extremely high temperatures and high relative humidity – a situation that can quickly lead to spore colonization.

Because the spore colonization is widespread at HLA, we are taking extra precautions to fix the current problem and eliminate the risk of future contamination throughout the building.

This thorough remediation process is expected to take several weeks, so HLA classes and programming will be relocated to the former Longfellow facility at 45 E. 25th Street in Holland.

Superintendent Brian Davis will host an informational meeting for all Holland Language Academy parents and guardians on August 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the performing arts center at Holland High School.  All HLA parents and guardians are encouraged to attend this informative discussion and Q&A session with Dr. Davis and representatives from Summit Laboratory, our environmental testing firm, and Van Dam & Krusinga, our environmental remediation firm.

I look forward to seeing you on the 15th. If you have any questions in the meantime, please email Dr. Davis or call (616) 494-2005. And watch for regular updates about this situation on the district website.

FAQ

When will remediation at HLA begin, and how long will it take?

  • While we are doing some prep work now, official remediation will start on August 8 and will include physical removal of any mold spores or colonization utilizing negative air pressure.  It is expected to take several weeks.

What health risks does this pose?

  • The molds discovered were penicillin and aspergillus which are known allergens and could cause histamine or allergic reactions when encountered in high enough concentrations. However, this spore colonization can be traced to failure of the building HVAC system in July and was not a threat at any time during the 2018-2019 school year.

Who conducted the testing and who will handle the remediation?

  • Summit Laboratory conducted the environmental assessment and testing, and Van Dam & Krusinga will handle the building remediation process.

Is the district moving Holland Language Academy classes and programming to Longfellow for the entire year?

  • Yes. We weighed our options and made the decision to relocate classes and programming to ensure that all HLA students can start school on August 21, at the same time as students at other Holland Public Schools. We plan to operate HLA at the Longfellow building for the entire year to minimize disruption for students, faculty and staff.

Were any other schools affected?

  • Upon learning of the issues at HLA, Superintendent Davis ordered immediate air quality testing at all Holland Public School buildings. Summit found some isolated mold in a few storage facilities and on some carpet squares at Holland Heights and Maplewood. This issue can be traced to poor circulation and hot, humid conditions in crowded storage areas this summer. Summit found no air quality issues at those buildings, so they can remain open through remediation.
  • Summit Laboratory reported that no other HPS school facilities have mold or air quality issues, including Longfellow. However, we have contracted with Van Dam & Krusinga to conduct a deep cleaning on the Longfellow building to prepare it for occupancy.