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Hawaii officials discuss efforts to address mold problems at elementary school

Feb. 22, 2023
Teachers and parents say Holualoa Elementary on the island of Hawaii is plagued by mold growth and other facility problems.

The Hawaii Department of Education says efforts are underway to address mold and other facility problems at Holualoa Elementary School in Holualoa.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that officials have been working with the school’s staff over the past couple of months to deal with the presence of mold in some of the classrooms at the school on the island of Hawaii.

“After receiving reports of poor indoor air quality and mold contamination, HIDOE’s Environmental Services Unit conducted a mold assessment on Jan. 5," said Nanea Kalani, communications director for the education department. "Samples from four classrooms verified the presence of spores from common species of mold that may affect those who have sensitivity and/or allergies. There was no evidence of black mold."

The department's response came a day after the Hawaii State Teachers Association, teachers and parents called out the department over its apparent lack of action in dealing with the mold and other problems like rats, termite damage, lead paint peeling from ceilings, and the closure of the largest student restroom on campus.

To date, two classrooms have been temporarily relocated to alternative settings while the mold is being addressed.

All classrooms are being monitored for evidence of mold, and the department has made efforts to reduce moisture and condensation in buildings. That includes increasing the temperature in the server room to minimize condensation and promoting cross-ventilation in all rooms during school hours by opening windows and exhausting air to the outside.

Dehumidifiers in each room run overnight to lower the relative humidity.

The department is also contracting professional services for deep cleaning of all rooms that have mold.

Long-term, the department is looking at a $57 million phased project to improve the campus.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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