Wakefield, Quebec school passes air tests for mould, asbestos

Wakefield, Quebec elementary students may be able to take gym class in an actual gymnasium on Nov. 29, after tests for asbestos and mould in the school came back negative.

According to Colin O’Shea, director of buildings, equipment and transportation with the Western Quebec School Board (WQSB), the school is now in the reconstruction phase after final air tests conducted by InAir Environmental Ltd.

“There is a clean bill of health for all rooms,” said O’Shea.             “We are now in the rebuild phase.”

In early October, InAir was hired to conduct air tests in the basement and portable classrooms of the school, after the June 23 earthquake caused water damage to some of the buildings.

InAir found elevated levels of Aspergillus/Penicillium-like Spores and Chaetomium and Stachybotrys, which “are known to be allergenic and toxigenic.” The spores were found in several basement classrooms, portables and washrooms, all of which were completely shut down and sealed off from students.

Investigators also found traces of asbestos under floor tiles and inside pipe insulation in some of the portable buildings. The pipe insulation and the floor tiles have all been removed and the portable has since tested clean, according to O’Shea.

“We have just received the last air quality report for room 20 which was negative for airborne asbestos fibres following the removal of the floor tiles,” said O’Shea in a statement posted on the school’s website. “This means we have now completed the remediation and can proceed with reconstruction.”

Crews have been busy the past two weeks, ripping up affected classrooms and ridding the school of affected materials. The quick work has the school almost back to normal with only the rebuilding of two classrooms remaining.

“We are hoping all of the students will be back in their normal classrooms by Monday (Nov. 29),” said O’Shea.

All the InAir reports can be found at www.wqsb.qc.ca/wakefield. The Low Down has also started a blog page on mould where parents can share and discuss concerns, stories and find helpful information on mould and asbestos. The blog page can be found at www.lowdownonline.com.

Out with the portables

Wakefield Elementary could be getting a major facelift, which would bid farewell to the school’s portables with a permanent 1,700 square-metre expansion.

The WQSB has put a request into the Minister of Education, Loisir and Sports to provide a permanent extension to Wakefield school under the program “Ajout d’espace” or “adding space.”

Colin O’Shea, director of buildings, equipment and transportation with the Western Quebec School Board said that an answer could be received as soon as April, 2011.

He’s confident the request will be approved, as the Wakefield school is showing signs of growth as far as 2015.

The $3-million dollar expansion will include six new classrooms and some renovations on the current building.