Given a challenging set of circumstances, we are proud that we were able to start the 2018 - 2019 school year for Hance @ Eden Hall this week. Your understanding, cooperation and kind words are much appreciated. We had around 170 people at the optional parent meeting and hundreds visited the set-up for Hance @ Eden Hall. The first day of school was outstanding! We did identify some necessary “tweaks” to cafeteria and bathroom procedures during the first day that were then revised and improved for the second day. Students will also practice emergency preparedness.
The purpose of this letter is to provide clear information about the Hance building conditions, remediation actions, and also a tentative timeline for next steps. Please take some time to carefully review this entire letter. We have included detailed information for awareness of families. Also, please understand that the timeline is dependent on air quality test results. We are sharing our best thinking that reflects both a realistic and optimistic balance.
As a review of last week, the district consulted with multiple outside organizations and reviewed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines in taking the following actions from August 22nd through 26th: Air conditioning was shut-off. Dehumidifiers were placed in all classrooms. Each space was partitioned with plastic by PRSD facilities staff for containment prior to the removal of the chilled water line insulation. The insulation was contained, sealed and removed. High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum cleaners were used on all surfaces and floors. HEPA air scrubbers were also placed in rooms to purify air. Surfaces were wiped with a damp detergent solution in each classroom. This process was completed multiple times.
Beginning this week, the district secured American Contracting Enterprises, Inc. to complete additional remediation and abatement at Hance. This company has decades of expertise in asbestos abatement and also handles mold abatement for a variety of schools in the Pittsburgh area. The company maintains certifications for microbial remediation and indoor environments. To be clear, this is a mold issue - not asbestos - but the remediation procedures are similar. Intertek-PSI also has expertise in mold. They are actively engaged in monitoring the scope of work, collecting air samples, and conducting the analyses. We are also working to identify another independent review of test sample reports and daily work logs. Two other companies are completing the re-insulation work of the chilled water lines.
Throughout this process, many spaces at Hance have maintained excellent air quality results. The focus at this time are the classroom spaces and rooms with elevated levels of spores compared to the outside environment. We are conducting some interim air quality samples to monitor progress. We will conduct a full assessment of affected spaces at the end of this week or very early next week. When the entire situation is resolved, Intertek-PSI will write a comprehensive final report. This report will be made available publicly. In addition to references for these companies, the district is also working with other construction management and HVAC engineers. For awareness and without interpretation, the air quality reports generated-to-date are posted on the Hance website within the “Resources” tab.
American Contracting Enterprises, Inc. is already working and taking the following steps: (1) containments built; (2) inspection of surfaces and conditions; (3) removal of any additional insulation; (4) HEPA vacuuming above the drop ceilings and top side of ceiling tiles; (5) biocide solution mist of areas above drop ceiling; (6) HEPA vacuuming of all floors and soft contents; and (7) biocide wipedown of surfaces. In addition, sixteen HEPA air scrubber filtration systems are in use. Dehumidifiers continue to run in all spaces. Unit ventilators have been cleaned. New filters were also installed.
Instruction and programming for Hance students at Eden Hall will continue next week. However, we do believe that we may be able to return to Hance by or prior to Friday, September 7th. Again, this transition is dependent on air quality test results. We are also planning an optional parent meeting on Wednesday, September 5th at 6:30 p.m. in the Hance Elementary gymnasium. The purpose of this meeting is to review air quality test results and explain the factors that would allow the transition. The gymnasium is one of many examples of a space that has maintained excellent air quality. A representative of Intertek-PSI will provide information. PRSD staff will then review the transition process and arrival-dismissal procedures at the Hance campus.
We believe that we have developed an efficient and effective procedure to transition materials from Eden Hall to Hance. On the last afternoon at Eden Hall, each student will have their own “packing box” with teacher name and student first name. Under teacher direction, each 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade student will organize his/her school materials, textbooks, journals, pencil boxes, etc. into a box similar to what they would do on a daily basis with their desk or locker. Students will not be asked to carry things. They will only organize their school items. After students are dismissed on that last afternoon, the box will be sitting at their desk/table seat. Staff will then manage the transfer of those boxes from Eden Hall to Hance. When students arrive at Hance the next morning, they will have their box - that they packed - sitting at their regular Hance desk. The teachers will then guide unpacking.
Thank you again for your understanding and cooperation. Similar to our last message, the purpose of this letter is to provide clear information about the situation, current action, timeline, and next steps. Please take some time to carefully review this entire letter. We have included detailed information for awareness of families.