Holland Language Academy
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. There is no playground at the Longfellow School, where will students have recess?
Yes, with the assistance of GMB Architechts & Engineers, the City of Holland, Lakewood Design and the Outdoor Discovery Center, we will be able to utilize the existing space at Longfellow for recess activities.
2. My child normally walks to HLA on VanRaalte, how will they get to Longfellow?
A shuttle will be provided to transport students from HLA to the Longfellow school at the start and end of the day. Students can walk to the Boys and Girls Club from there.