Exclusive: Is Peck Place School Safe For Children To Return To Classes?

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Aug 272013

peck place schoolSupt. Lynn McMullin, Peck Place Principal Eric Carbone, Facilities Director Mike Luzzi, Business Administrator Kevin McNabola and a rep. from JP McGuire were available to answer questions Monday night at a special informational meeting for parents at Peck Place School regarding the presence of mold and the remediation actions taken over the past couple of months.

The parent turn-out was a little disappointing, considering the potential serious health hazards that mold could cause, especially to children with respiratory issues.

To start the evening off, a fact sheet with a timeline from Sept. 2012 through Monday Aug. 26, 2013 was distributed to every parent and discussed.

For those parents who could not attend the meeting, here is that timeline:

Sept. 2012 — After several humid days, custodial staff and teachers reported slick floors in rooms 102, 103, and 202. the Superintendent and Director of Facilities were notified and classroom fans were used to dry floors. The humidity subsided, conditions improved and the situation did ot return for the remainder of the fall.

Friday, May 31, 2013 — After a series of humid days and with heavy volume of student and parent traffic in rooms on Travel Agency Day, slick floors were observed in rooms 102, 103, and 303. The Superintendent and Director of Facilities were notified and classroom fans and dehumidifiers were used to dry floors. After the humidity subsided floors dried and the issue was resolved for the remainder of the school year.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 — Facility Support Services, LLC conducted air quality tests in rooms 101, 102, 103, 301, 302, & 303, as well as outside in the halls near rooms 401 and 203.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 — A letter was communicated to parents with the results of the tests indicating that the air quality and mold counts in these classrooms fell well below the outside air.

Friday, July 5, 2013 — A member of the custodial staff brought to my attention suspicious spots in several classrooms in the school. this came after a serious of very humid days,. The spotting was evident on floors, chairs, rugs and waste paper baskets. There was also condensation on the floors in several rooms. The Superintendent and Director of Facilities were notified. In the subsequent days, Facility Support Services and JP McGuire were contacted for additional testing, professional assessment, and methods to remedy the situation.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 — A letter was communicated to parents and staff with the results of the recent tests indicating that the air quality and common mold counts in these classrooms was well above the outside air and remediation was necessary.

July 17 – Aug. 9, 2013 — JP McGuire cleaned all surfaces and furniture in classrooms with Benefect, shampooed rugs and used commercial dehumidifiers in classrooms.

Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 — Two meetings, one for staff and one for parents were scheduled with Facility Support Services, LLC and announced to the Peck community through e-mail, and the Orange community at large, through the webpage and social media.

Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 — Facility Support Services, LLC again conducted air quality tests.

Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 — Facility Support Services, LLC provided the results of the most recent tests. One classroom, Room 101 did not pass, JP McGuire was contracted to re-clean the room as well as remove ceiling tiles and insulation in the ceiling.

Thursday, Aug. 22 – 23, 2013 — JP McGuire re-cleaned room 101 and removed all ceiling tiles and insulation and repolcaed them with new tiles. Facility Support Services, LLC retested room 101, 102, and 103.

Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 — Facility Support Services, LLC reported that all three classrooms are now in the acceptable level.

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What came out of this meeting was that the mold was caused by humidity. One of the problems was that somewhere along the line insulation was placed above the ceiling tiles (which is not supposed to be done) creating a greenhouse effect. The insulation has been removed and the tiles replaced.

Bushes that were planted close to the building have been cut back because they held the moisture in. Now there is enough room between the plantings and the building for someone to walk through the area.

Humid September days ahead will not help the situation, but JP McGuire has a plan.

Air conditioning, vented through the ceilings will pull humidity out of the rooms. Humidity gauges will be installed in the hallways outside the troubled rooms and monitored.

Dehumidifiers on timers will run in the classrooms after school until morning so when children arrive the rooms will be at a comfortable level.

If, for any reason the rooms have any air quality issues in spite of the administrator’s best efforts, classes will be moved to a place where the air is healthy.

Earlier this week two men walked the roof of Peck Place School and checked for any tares and possible leaks in the roofing materials and sealed them.

Next spring, the entire roof will be covered in tar and stone and sealed properly so there won’t be any water infiltration issues.

Parents who were present wanted assurance that the air quality in the school would be safe for their children when they return next week.

An air quality testing schedule will be set up and it will be sent to parents (as well as the results).

Teachers and Custodians will be hyper vigilant regarding any moisture issues in the classrooms and share that information with the principal.

Is there asbestos in the school? Yes. It is under the floor tiles and of no danger to anyone as it is not airborne. If the tiles are removed the particles would become airborne, but the facilities people are well aware of it and explained why they were not concerned about it, and no one else should be either.

In Orange the health and safety of the children is the number one priority. The administration will be open and honest with parents now and throughout the school year.

On a side note: One difficult decision that the Board of Education may have to mull over this year is whether or not to permit “food” parties in school. Just from the reaction of the dozen or so parents at this meeting, Supt. McMullin could tell that the rest of the parents in town will be split on whatever decision is made.