Holland Public Schools has closed Holland Language Academy due to mold spore colonization and will relocate students to the vacant Longfellow Elementary for the 2019-20 school year.
The Academy building was not occupied when the mold was discovered.
Mold was discovered in two other buildings after a check of all facilities: Holland Heights Elementary and Maplewood Early Childhood Center, according to Superintendent Brian Davis. However, he said mold at those schools was not a colonization, rather isolated pockets.
“The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is our top priority and we’ve been working with reputable people with the best remediation teams in the region,’’ Davis told MLive Thursday, Aug. 8.
“We wanted to make sure we were very thorough by checking all our buildings.’’
The Holland Language Academy is a K-5, two-way Spanish immersion program. An information meeting for all parents and guardians is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at the performing arts center at Holland High School, located at 600 Van Raalte Ave.
Davis said the district is confident in its partners, Summit Laboratory and VanDam & Krusinga Building Restoration, who are providing expert, science-based information and remediation services.
Following the Aug. 2 mold discovery at the Academy, located at 461 Van Raalte Ave., Davis immediately closed the building to allow for further testing by Summit Laboratory and to begin plans for remediation.
The new school year begins Aug. 19. The Academy is being relocated because the remediation will be extensive and will require several weeks to complete.
Davis said he thought it would be too disruptive and unfair to relocate students and staff back to the building in the middle of the school year.
“We are taking extra precautions at HLA (Holland Language Academy) to fix the current problem and eliminate the risk of future contamination,” Davis said. “This includes removal and replacement of all carpeting and other textiles throughout the building, whether or not they show signs of spore colonization.”
The Maplewood and Holland Heights remediation will be completed before schools starts.
Davis said the mold development at the Academy was traced back to mid-July.
The building became conducive to mold spore colonization when the Jace, a device that provides connectivity to the HVAC system failed, causing the system to not work properly during an extended period of high temperatures and relatively high humidity, he said.
Molds are fungi that grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Penicillium and Aspergillus were the two common types of mold found in the buildings.
Summit was called in for testing at the Academy after a contracted cleaning company reported potential air quality issues at the building on July 31, after the HVAC issue had been repaired.
Davis said the mold is not visible to the naked eye, but some cleaners became nauseous or had headaches, indicating there was an issue.
“We are fortunate to have a vacant building in the district to be able to relocate our students,’’ said Davis. Last year’s restructuring in the district moved the Early College program out of Longfellow, 45 E. 25th St.
“VanDam and Krusinga is deep cleaning Longfellow because I want to make sure our families impacted have complete confidence in that facility.’’
Holland School Board approves restructure to right-size district
The Holland School Board voted Monday, March 19, to restructure the district.
The Ottawa County Health Department will inspect the kitchen at Longfellow as part of the transition.
The Academy has been at the Van Raalte site since the 2016-17 school year. There were 320 students enrolled last school year, according to the state.
Remediation of the Academy was scheduled to begin Thursday, Aug. 8, and include physical removal of any mold spores or colonization utilizing negative air pressure, according to the district.
The remediation team will use personal protective equipment during remediation.
The mold is in a small storage closet at Holland Heights, and in a few classrooms at Maplewood that had been used for storage. The heat and humidity in July is believed to have caused the mold.
A well-managed Indoor Air Quality plan can identify and reduce asthma triggers, while lowering facility operating costs.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases that afflicts children. Attacks can be debilitating enough to affect student performance and attendance. While there is no cure for asthma, there are ways to medically treat the symptoms and there are recommendations to identify and reduce agents that act as asthma triggers.
A 2015 study on the association of cognitive function scores and the indoor environment published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that occupants exposed to less volatile organic compounds (VOCs) had increased cognitive function performance.
“We have been ignoring the 90%. We spend 90% of our time indoors and 90% of the cost of a building are the occupants, yet indoor environmental quality and its impact on health and productivity are often an afterthought,” said Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment, and lead author of the study. “These results suggest that even modest improvements to indoor environmental quality may have a profound impact on the decision-making performance of workers.”
And the performance of students too!
According the Florida Department of Education student absenteeism costs the state $228,557,676 per year. Florida schools can lose at least $1020 per chronically absent student. Asthma related absence certainly contributes to these numbers.
Developing a strategic IAQ plan to identify and reduce asthma triggers
Both the CDC’s National Asthma Control Program (NACP) and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommend having a plan for improved IAQ and asthma/allergen trigger reduction. The first step in developing an IAQ plan is to identify and quantify the asthma triggers that are present in a facility. Recognizing that people with asthma might react to just one asthma trigger or sometimes multiple triggers.
Common Asthma Triggers Found in Schools • Mold • Pollen • Dust • Dust Mites • VOCs
Establish an Indoor Environmental Testing protocol to find and quantify the specific asthma triggers lurking in the facility. There are a variety of sample collection methods and tests that can be performed to establish a baseline and determine the condition of the indoor environment. Culture (Bioaerosol), Non-Culture (spore trap analysis), and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) are often used for enumerating the allergens/triggers found. Enzyme Immunoassay (ELISA) of air or dust samples can also be utilized thought it can be costly, time consuming and allergen specific.
While most of the common asthma triggers are well known, VOCs deserve a closer look for better understanding. VOCs are basically organic chemicals. They are numerous and varied. VOCs can be both man-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. These pollutants can include (but are not limited to) tobacco smoke, emissions from products used in the building such as: office equipment, furniture, wall coverings, floor coverings and cleaning products, as well as gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
Once the building and HVAC system has been tested, the data can then be used to recommend various methods to strategically remove/reduce any asthma triggers that were found. These methods can include Hygienic HVAC System/Ducts Cleaning, Mold Remediation, and hard products like Professional Air Purifiers, to name a few solutions.
Finally, repetition of these two steps, testing and remediation, on a regular basis is what really creates a proactive Indoor Air Quality management plan. The result is healthier and higher performing students, staff and buildings.
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The company’s three specialized divisions include Building Sciences, Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory, and Building Remediation Sciences. They offer precise building health assessments as well as innovative services for the hygienic cleaning/restoration of HVAC systems and indoor environments. Pure Air Control Services, Inc. can be utilized directly with their cooperative purchasing contracts through the Florida Buy Program and E&I.
For more information on Pure Air Control Services, Inc. please contact Dr Rajiv Sahay or Alan Wozniak (800) 422-7873 ext 802 or 804.
Horry County Schools is putting new protocols regarding air quality in place before the start of the new school year.
For several months, St. James Elementary parents complained mold in the building caused their kids to develop chronic sickness and have spoken at multiple school board meetings about the issue.
Towards the end of the school year, two students tested positive for mold toxins. Test results from one of the parents show it’s the same mold type that was found in classrooms following air quality test earlier this year.
HCS said roof leaks and moisture after Hurricane Florence caused mold to develop in the building.
Replacing the roof started a couple of weeks ago and the district says it should be wrapped up in November.
“A lot of the roofing projects take longer than three months which is somewhat of our summer break so a lot of those projects carry into the school year.
“We will make sure that we work with school administrators on all these projects and have the least disruption not only to our students but to our staff as well,” said Lisa Bourcier, with Horry County Schools
Horry County Schools said when it comes to the issue of air quality they have come up with new district-wide initiatives this upcoming school year including implementing specific guidelines so administrators can report concerns.
The district said they have taken examples from Greenville County Schools to draft their own protocols.
“We have had a number of employees get certified in indoor air quality and we have established 15 IAQ teams that we have established throughout the school district to be able to go out to these facilities and investigate their concerns as well.”
The district says a lot of their protocols are adopted by OSHA, EPA, and CDC standards. They have also contracted an environmental consultant to give guidance to the district on an as-needed basis.
This past legislative session lawmakers passed a bill to create a committee to study the impacts of mold in public buildings including schools. News 13 has learned a committee has been appointed and they hope to have their first meeting before Labor Day.
Mold was found in 35 Howard County public schools during the 2018-19 academic year, with a range of growth samples found on drywall to the chin straps of athletic helmets.
The reports were made between August 2018 and July 16 of this year, according to the school system’s Indoor Environmental Quality webpage. The school system said all of the cases have been remediated.
In addition to receiving reports from the 77 schools in the district, the school system also monitors administrative buildings including the central office, custodial services, ground services, Ascend One, the Dorsey and Harriett Tubman buildings, logistics, Old Bushy Park and Old Cedar Lane, according to the page. No cases of mold were found in any of the additional buildings.
In some cases, complaints were filed because of the concern of potential mold and then, upon investigation, nothing was found.
“Last year’s weather pattern had a large impact on the number of mold occurrences,” Chris Madden, the school system’s Indoor Environmental Quality manager, said in an email.
“The weather was extremely humid, and that moisture can make its way into the building through a variety of channels.”Lead found in water at 32 Howard schools during first year of state testing »
In 2016, 12 Howard schools were found to have higher mold levels than expected.
Concerns about mold were first raised in summer 2015 after teachers and students said they felt sick after being inside Glenwood Middle School. At the time, the school system’s remediation procedures came under fire by parents, residents and some elected officials, including Gov. Larry Hogan.
Potential health effects associated with mold exposures include asthma, allergic reactions, and other respiratory complaints, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Mold exposure can result in irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, and skin to anyone, not just those allergic to mold.
On the Indoor Environmental Quality webpage, parents, teachers, administrative staff and others can submit concerns, view reports of environmental issues in schools and see how issues were remediated. The school system’s Office of Environment contacts each individual who submits a concern and performs an environmental assessment of the reported area.
The webpage, which “provides greater transparency,” was launched in August, Madden said.
The Indoor Environmental Quality program conducts two walk-through reviews of each Howard school every year. One walk-through is performed by Howard schools staff, students, parents and community members trained by the Office of Environment. This group is trained to identify and report “potential indoor environmental issues,” according to the Indoor Environmental Quality webpage.
A school system industrial hygienist, who assesses each school building including exteriors, above dropped ceilings and mechanical equipment, conducts the second walk-through.
The walk-through processes are based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor Air Quality recommendations for schools, according to the school system.
Many complaints in the 2018-19 academic year were filed for various school gyms and athletic storage closets.Howard schools CFO resigns to spend more time with family; district looking to fill the position »
In an outdoor athletics storage closet at Elkridge Landing Middle, mold growth was discovered on the handles of golf clubs and on the tape of field hockey sticks, according to the report.
Volleyballs were found with mold on them in Ellicott Mills Middle’s gym storage closet. At Lime Kiln Middle, mold was found on gym mats in a gym storage closet and in a corner of a gym closet at Guilford Elementary.
Mold was found in the shower area — not used by students — of the boys locker room at River Hill High, as well as on the chin straps of athletic helmets in the school’s outdoor storage area.
In numerous other cases, mold growth was found in the school’s portable classrooms, including on walls, ceilings, an air vent, in drywall and on carpets, according to various complaints.
Madden said the mold concerns in the portables last summer “were primarily the result of incorrect thermostat settings.”
When removing the protective box around the thermostat, individuals had sometimes changed the thermostat settings, not realizing the implications, Madden said.
“We have been surveying this summer to ensure proper settings are maintained in an attempt to minimize this type of impact,” he added.
Schools where mold growth was found:
Bollman Bridge Elementary
Bonnie Branch Middle
Elkridge Landing Middle
Ellicott Mills Middle
Folly Quarter Middle
Harpers Choice Middle
Laurel Woods Elementary
Lime Kiln Elementary
Mt. Hebron High
Mount View Middle
Oakland Mills High
Pointers Run Elementary
River Hill High
Running Brook Elementary
Talbott Springs Elementary
Wilde Lake High
Schools/offices with no mold complaints and/or no mold growth found:
You’ve started on your lists of small repairs, you’ve contacted a real estate agent, and now you’re in the final steps of getting ready to sell your house. But before you put your home up for sale, and certainly before having your first open house, here are 11 things to consider that most home sellers forget to think about and could cost you a sale.
Declutter and Organize Your Closets and Cabinets
Sure, you went through your entire house and
reduced the clutter in each room, organized your desk and other surfaces, and
arranged your collection of antique ceramic kitty figurines to be facing
perpendicular to the window. However, did you tackle your closets and cabinets?
One thing you should definitely expect during an open house or individual home tours is that potential homebuyers will be looking in your closets, kitchen drawers and cabinets. Will your walk-in closet fit all of his shoes and her summer dresses? Is there enough storage space in your kitchen for their cookware, bakeware, and all the kitchen gadgets that they seem to collect each year? These are all questions homebuyers will be asking themselves as they walk through your home. Of course, you as a home seller will have no idea what the needs are of a potential homebuyer, but you can definitely showcase what your house has to offer in terms of storage. Start by decluttering your closets, cabinets, and drawers, and then keeping only enough belongings in each to really show off the potential that space has to offer. Think of it as an extension of staging your home, but for your storage areas.
2. Clean Stains and Eliminate Odors
We should all consider small stains, marks, and other imperfections as badges of honor for a house that has been lived in for years. Nonetheless, these slight bumps and bruises your home has encountered over time will stick out to potential homebuyers, so tackle them head-on.
Begin by trying to put yourself in the shoes of a potential homebuyer and look at your house objectively. Start by going outside and then re-entering your house as if you didn’t actually own it but were an interested homebuyer looking at it for the first time. What do you see? Walkthrough every room and take note of all the imperfections you notice. You might surprise yourself with how quickly your list grows. You can then add them to your list of repairs so you can make your house truly be at its best before your first open house.
Also, if you have pets there is a strong possibility that your home has an odor which you can no longer smell. Deep cleaning your house is a sure-fire way to help eliminate these odors, but also think about using an odor-eliminating spray every day for about a week before your first open house. You can also place plugin room fresheners that offer a great crisp smell, like cucumber, to help infuse a sense of cleanliness throughout your house.
3. Replace Light Bulbs
Walkthrough each room in your house and look at every light bulb to see if it’s working. As homeowners, we sometimes forget to immediately replace a lightbulb when it goes out. You want your house to be at its brightest when new homebuyers are touring your home and replacing old burnt out light bulbs is one of the easiest ways to do it.
Also, don’t forget to walk around the outside
of your house to make sure all the lights of your home’s exterior are working
as well. Depending on the time of year, your open house or home tours could
happen when the sun is going down or when it’s already dark. So be sure to make
your house shine inside and out!
Pro tip: Make sure all your light bulbs are the same color temperature inside your house as well as outside. A soft-white light LED bulb can create a bright but welcoming environment for new homebuyers.
4. Think About the Small Details: Plants, Mirrors, Rugs
Nothing breathes life into a room more than a
little greenery. A potted tree can work wonders in a living room, but for
smaller areas think smaller plants such as a small potted herb garden in the
kitchen or a miniature cactus on the mantel.
even the smallest rooms
Mirrors can make small spaces seem large
because they create the illusion of depth. Mirrors also work wonders in darker
rooms as they reflect light deep into areas of a room that may not receive an
abundance of natural light.
character to an otherwise unimpressive space
While staging your home, think about adding character to various spaces with rugs. However, keep in mind that you want to use rugs to enhance a space, not be the focal point of it. Also, if you have a strange space that you never really figured out a good use for, a rug could at least offer a little personality while leaving the space and its potential to the imaginations of homebuyers.
Your Outdoor Space
You’re probably already aware that enhancing
your curb appeal is one of the most impactful things you can do to create a
great first impression. However, you don’t want to forget about your other outdoor
areas, such as your front porch or entrance, your back entrance, side yard, and
backyard. You want to enhance your outdoor spaces around the house so potential
buyers can see themselves living as much outside your house as inside.
Simple enhancements like placing potted plants
to your front entrance or adding fresh beauty bark around the base of your
hedges and trees can go a long way. If you don’t already have a designated
outdoor space for entertaining, think about building a DIY fire pit and adding
four Adirondack chairs to create the idea of outdoor fun. Ultimately, your
outdoor space can be just as important of a space as what your home has to
offer on the inside.
Aerial photography can show off your entire
property, a scenic view, and the surrounding area. If you have a lot of property, an aerial shot
can easily put into perspective the full scope all your land has to offer to
Furthermore, aerial photography has come a long way thanks to the rapid development of drone technology, resulting in reasonable pricing that is accessible for many homeowners today. For higher-end listings, drones can even capture video of your property, helping it stand out among the hundreds of other homes for sale.
7. Don’t Forget About Your Gutters
Imagine that you’re having your first open
house and despite the rain, foot traffic has been steadily increasing all
morning. Your house looks immaculate, like one of those home’s off of an HGTV
show, and your real estate agent has been messaging you updates every hour
about how great it’s going. But then the unexpected happens. A small stream of
water starts coming down right in front of your large bay window in the living
room. The stream is outside the house, but your would-be buyers watch on as it
grows into a miniature waterfall.
Red flags go up for the homebuyers touring
your house as the foot traffic thins then disappears altogether. What they
didn’t see was that the spillage was the result of a clogged gutter, nothing
more, causing water to spill over in a very inopportune place and at the worst
Depending on where you live, you may not see
as much rain in locations like Phoenix,
AZ, but in many locations where rainfall is a common
occurrence, such as Seattle,
WA, this situation is more likely to happen. If you don’t
have time to clean your gutters yourself—because you have a house to sell and a
million other little things to do—there are professional services that can clean
your gutters for you so this little oversight doesn’t drown out your hopes of
selling your home quickly.
8. Paint Your Baseboards and Crown Molding
It’s pretty common knowledge that you should
paint the interior of your home a neutral color to appeal to more buyers.
Homebuyers want to imagine themselves and their stuff in your space, so your
red accent wall will need to be painted over with a more neutral hue. But what
a lot of home sellers forget to do is pay attention to their baseboards and
Where crown molding may just need some
cleaning and touch-ups, your baseboards most likely have seen a lot more
traffic, especially if you have kids. It may be a toy truck that has repeatedly
crashed into your white baseboards, crayons that went rogue, or the black
rubber wheels from bikes racing down the hallway, most likely your baseboards
have been marked with years of life experiences.
To correct these homely blemishes, you can try
cleaning your baseboards with simple dish soap and water. But if it has been
years of wear and abuse, you most likely will need to paint. Use a paint with a
semi-gloss finish that will offer a light sheen but not glossy enough to
distract attention away from your floors. You can also match your crown molding
using the same paint, making every room pop to potential homebuyers. Of course,
if you end up hiring painters to repaint that accent wall of yours, you might
as well have them paint your baseboards while they’re there.
9. Focus on Your Floors
Your hardwood floors were once beautiful and
one of the initial reasons you bought your home, but after years of traffic
your hardwoods have since dulled to a shadow of their former glory. Likewise,
your once plush carpet has also now matted down into obvious paths that lead
from room to room.
One of the first things potential homebuyers
look at when entering a new home is the floors, so make yours a statement.
If your carpet is approaching that 10-year
mark, it is most likely looking pretty worn. Think about recarpeting your house
to make it look fresh and ready for new homeowners. Such as you did with your
walls, you’ll want to go more neutral in color to appeal to the majority of
homebuyers. If your carpet is only a few years old, however, getting it
professionally cleaned can go a long way in bringing your carpet back to life.
If you have hardwood floors bring them back to their former glory by refinishing them. Refinishing hardwood floors typically includes sanding down the floors to eliminate the original finish and stain, then restaining with the desired color followed by a coat or two of sealer. Your floors will look brand new and really stand out during the open house.
10. Gather Your Documents
You might not be aware of this but you’ll want
to gather all the documents you have in regards to warranties, manuals, service
records, and repairs done to your house. These documents are hugely important
for several reasons and certain ones are needed by different parties before you
sell your house.
Your agent is your best friend during the home
selling process. They are also your homes’ first line of marketing and the more
information they have about your house, the better they can promote it. They
will write out the specific details of your home as well as an enticing
description that will highlight key features that homebuyers want. So, if
you’ve made recent updates like a new deck, new roof, updated HVAC, or if your
home has hot water on demand make sure your agent knows it and you have the
paperwork to back it up.
During the home inspection process, home
inspectors are going to go over your house with a fine-toothed comb. If your
furnace or water heater hasn’t been serviced in years, they’ll let you know.
Take a proactive approach by gathering all your service records so you’ll know
ahead of time if something needs to be serviced before listing your home.
Mortgage loan information, which
will show any outstanding mortgage balance and pay-off balance (if there is
Final purchase and sale agreement
Property tax information,
including most recent tax statement
Homeowners insurance information
Lease agreement, if you’re
currently renting the property
Any reports or documentation that
relates to the property
Warranty paperwork, permits,
service documentation, instruction manuals, dates of home improvement projects,
and age of the roof, furnace, hot water heater, HVAC, and all the other major
11. Pre-Sale Home Inspection
The last thing most people don’t think about
before they sell their home is getting a pre-sale home inspection. Though it is
not mandatory, a pre-sale home inspection is a proactive approach to
understanding your home’s condition at that point in time, and if there are any
repairs that need attention, you can address them now versus trying to do it
during the home selling process.
Homebuyers will most likely get a home
inspection of their own, right? So, why would you get one as a seller?
A home inspection report will most likely turn
up a list of repairs that will need to be fixed. Would you prefer to fix these
issues now before you list your home, or after you’re in negotiations with a
potential buyer? If you wait, you may push back the sale date of your house as
repairs are being made. Or, homebuyers may ask for concessions on your asking
price in order to cover the repairs and the time it takes to make them.
Ultimately, getting a pre-sale home inspection will leave you in a better
position when it comes time to negotiate with potential buyers.
You may feel like spending a lot of time and
money on your house is pointless because you’re just going to sell it anyway,
right? Just consider that the more you appeal to the majority of homebuyers the
more bids you’ll likely see and ultimately help you sell your house quicker and
for more money.