Mold Remediation – Skyline School

 

Between December 2016 and February 2017 mold spores were found in classrooms at Skyline School. The following questions and answers are intended to provide families and community members with an overview of the matter.

 

Note: Mold spores are ubiquitous and present everywhere in air and dust, both indoors and outdoors. Some molds are a cause for concern, while others are not. There is no single level of mold spores that triggers the need for mitigation. A high level of one type of mold may not be an issue, while a lower level of a different mold might require action. The District relies on the professional judgement of an independent environmental testing company when interpreting the results of testing for the presence of mold.

 

Rooms 21 and 16 and Pod (workroom between classes)

 

How was the Mold discovered?

 

School staff received questions regarding air quality in Room 21. In response, the District contracted with an independent company to conduct environmental testing in the room. The process included testing for surface and airborne contaminants, use of a moisture meter, and infrared imaging. Samples of outside air are taken when the inside testing is performed to establish a baseline measure.

 

What were the results of the testing?

 
No visible water damage, visible mold, moldy odors, or elevated moisture levels were identified. Water staining was observed on two of the ceiling tiles and a build-up of dust was observed on the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) return vent. The airborne fungal spore concentrations inside the room were low when compared to outdoor mold spore concentrations (1030 count/m3 compared to a range of 3970 to 8950 in outdoor samples); however, Stachybotrys mold spores were identified in the air sample collected (200 count/m3 with none found in outdoor samples).

 

What was done to address these finding?

 
Room 21 shares a heating and air conditioning system with Room 16 and the pod between the classrooms. Room 16 and the pod were not tested, however, as a precaution, Room 21, Room 16, and the pod were closed immediately. The students and teachers were moved into other rooms at the school.

 

The District contracted with an authorized abatement company to remediate the rooms. All three rooms were sealed off during the work to protect other areas of the campus. Remediation consisted of the following:

  • Remove and replace all water stained ceiling tiles.
  • HEPA filtered air scrubbers were set up and operated while the room contents were cleaned (HEPA vacuumed and wet wiped).
  • Contents, materials, and furnishings that could not adequately be cleaned to remove mold growth were disposed of.
  • Carpets were HEPA vacuumed, professionally cleaned (using temperatures in excess of 180° F), and thoroughly dried.
  • The air scrubbers operated during the cleaning and for 24-48 hours following the cleaning.
  • The HVAC system and ducting was cleaned using HEPA filtered equipment, and an antimicrobial was applied.
  • Following the HVAC cleaning, new filters were installed.

How do we know that the rooms are now safe?

Once all cleanup activities were completed, a follow-up assessment and sampling was conducted. Room 21 did not initially pass this testing, so the abatement company returned and the duct work was cleaned once again. After the second round of cleaning, the rooms were again tested. This time the rooms passed testing and were cleared for use. The air scrubbers were then removed and the students and teachers were able to move back in to Rooms 16, 21, and the pod.

How long was the mold present?

We do not have an estimate of how long the mold was present.

How did the mold get into the room?

While we cannot know exactly how the mold formed, the results of testing indicated the presence of airborne mold, so the focus has been on the HVAC system. After those systems were addressed the room passed testing.

Is the public health department involved?

The testing is done by an independent environmental testing company. If the company finds any issues they are required to send their report to the County. Once the cleanup work is completed, the testing is repeated to ensure the environment is clear. That report is also provided to the County.

Room 24

How was the Mold discovered?

Maintenance staff had been working to address water intrusion issues caused by the HVAC units in Rooms 24 and 25 and water staining was visible on ceiling tiles. As a result, an independent company was hired to conduct environmental testing in those rooms. The process included testing for surface and airborne contaminants, use of a moisture meter, and infrared imaging.

 

What were the results of the testing?

 
The testing indicated the presence of mold in Room 24. The total fungal spore concentration inside the room was 6100 count/m3 compared to a range of 1100 to 1800 in outdoor samples. Cladosporium mold spores were identified at 5800 count/m3 compared to a range of 210 to 640 in outdoor samples. No concerns were found in the testing results for Room 25.

 

What was done to address these finding?

 
Room 24 was closed immediately. The students and teacher were moved into another room at the school. Rooms 24 and 25 do not share an HVAC system, so there was no need to close Room 25.

The District contracted with an authorized abatement company to remediate Room 24. The room was sealed off to protect other areas of the campus. The work was completed over three days (February 22, 23, and 24) when students were not on campus. Remediation consisted of the following:

  • Removed all water stained ceiling tiles.
  • The room contents were HEPA vacuumed and wet wiped.
  • Contents, materials, and furnishings that could not adequately be cleaned to remove mold growth were disposed of.
  • Carpets were HEPA vacuumed, professionally cleaned (using temperatures in excess of 180° F), and thoroughly dried.
  • The HEPA air scrubbers operated during the room cleaning and for 24-48 hours following the cleaning.
  • The HVAC system and ducting was cleaned using HEPA filtered equipment, and an antimicrobial was applied.
How will we know when the room is safe?
 
Once all cleanup activities were completed, a follow-up assessment and sampling was conducted. The room passed the testing and was cleared for use.


Will the students move back to Room 24?

 
It was decided that there will be less disruption for the students if they finish the school year in their new classroom, rather than move back into Room 24.

 

How long was the mold present?

We do not have an estimate of how long the mold was present.

How did the mold get into the room?

It appears that water damage resulting from leaking HVAC drain pans allowed the mold to form. The leaks have been fixed.

Schoolwide Testing

How do we know the rest of the Skyline campus is safe?

As a further precaution, and to ensure the safety of our students and staff, the District ordered environmental testing of the remainder of the Skyline campus.

What were the results of the testing?

The results indicated that no additional rooms needed to be closed or have significant remediation. The airborne fungal spore concentrations in Rooms 18 and 28 and the girl’s restroom were slightly elevated; however, all samples were similar to outdoor fungal spore concentrations. Airborne spore concentrations in Room 15 were also slightly elevated, but were less than half the levels of Rooms 18 and 28. A water damaged ceiling tile in Room 9 and the HVAC supply vent in Room 1 showed signs of mold that required cleaning.

What was done to address these findings?

Per the recommendations of the testing agency, HEPA filtered air scrubbers were placed in Rooms 18, 28, and the girl’s restroom to “scrub” the air. As a precautionary measure, an air scrubber was also used in Room 15. The water damaged ceiling tile in Room 9 was removed and replaced and the HVAC vents in Room 1 were cleaned (HEPA vacuumed and wet wiped with an antimicrobial). Air scrubbers were not needed in either of those rooms. All of the work was completed over a weekend with no disruption to classes.

How do we know that the school is now safe?

Once all cleanup activities were completed, a follow-up assessment was conducted to verify the effectiveness of the cleaning.

Who should we contact if we have additional questions?

Families with additional questions should contact the school principal, Lisa Denham (lisadenham@sbsd.k12.ca.us).

Who should we contact regarding the technical reports from the testing agency?

The reports are available at the Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities Department. Contact the Director of Maintenance and Operations, Curt Huckins (curthuckins@sbsd.k12.ca.us), for additional information.

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