The Eau Claire school district is investigating concerns about air quality and possible mold in a classroom at Northwoods Elementary School on the city’s northeast side, school officials said.
The district has hired Air Tech Environmental, an asbestos inspection and removal service, to investigate the concern, said Mary Ann Hardebeck, Eau Claire schools superintendent.
The district has received some preliminary results but doesn’t have “a definitive answer yet” about the presence of mold or other substances at Northwoods, Hardebeck said. “As soon as we get one, we’ll report to the staff and families.”
“We’re going to get a final report probably within the next week, then we’ll be taking action ... I think we know that because of the moisture concern at Northwoods, there might be something going on, but we’re not quite sure,” Hardebeck said.
As of Thursday afternoon, the district had not responded to an open records request sent Tuesday evening seeking results of preliminary reports from Air Tech Environmental.
A district staff member made a report about possible mold or air quality concerns shortly before the fall semester began Sept. 3, Hardebeck said.
“There were questions and concerns raised, and that’s what prompted the steps we’ve been taking,” said Darryl Petersen, interim director of buildings and grounds.
The company has completed most of its sampling in the last week and a half, Petersen said.
“Without having the actual test results to back up what we’re dealing with, our hands are kind of tied ... we have to wait to find out what exactly we’re dealing with and how best to address it,” Petersen said.
The district chose to work with an outside company to be sure the testing is valid, Hardebeck said.
“We felt it was essential that we work with a third-party environmental expert in order to gain as much information as possible,” Hardebeck said. “We know they have capabilities for testing we certainly don’t have in the school district.”
She asked staff members, students and families to come forward with information or concerns.
“As we’re trying to determine what’s going on with the air quality at Northwoods and we’re taking the steps necessary to address any problems or improve the conditions ... we want everyone to know that if they see something or are concerned about something, they need to say something,” Hardebeck said.
Northwoods Elementary, 3600 Northwoods Lane, was built in 1994 and hosts about 400 students, according to the school’s website.
As part of a November 2016 referendum, Northwoods this summer received a new secure entrance and construction work on its fire alarm systems, exterior doors, parking lot and playground, according to district documents.