(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) We are getting more information on the damage and air quality issues at Central High School.
According to St. Joseph School District superintendent Dr. Doug Van Zyl, the best way to describe the sudden closure of St. Joseph's largest high school, “It’s kind of been a perfect storm,” Van Zyl said. “When almost half of your classrooms are out of commission and basically half to be renovated from top to bottom with ceiling tiles and ceiling grid being replaced that takes time and there's really no where to move another 30 classrooms in the building.”
All books, files and other belongings that were in the classrooms are being inventoried before determining what needs to be replaced.
The company hired to do the work has 45 people on the job and if it wasn't for Covid, Servpro would bring in even more.
"This is a significant problem and it's not a problem that’s been ongoing for months, it just something that has occurred in the last couple of weeks because of the HVAC failure,” Servpro St. Joseph owner Brett Halsey said.
The rain and flooding caused other problems but the major damage is because summer storms knocked out parts of the AC system.
"It didn't shut the whole HVAC system down, it caused issues that couldn't be detected for a few weeks and that's why this problem has grown,” Halsey said.
Crews began working after air quality tests found the mold count too high.
The real clean up starts with inventorying books and items that have to be replaced. Moving furniture, band equipment so it can be cleaned and stored.
“At this point we have to remove ceiling tiles and gridwork throughout the whole building and then clean all the ceilings and walls,” Halsey said.
Teachers and students had prepared to be back in classrooms in less than two weeks.
"We would love to have the students back in face- to-face, our staff would love to have them back in face- to-face,” Van Zyl said. “I think our students are going to be disappointed that they don't have the opportunity to come back."
It was already going to be a challenge to keep everyone healthy and safe in the time of Covid, but this was a curveball the district says it hadn't expected.
"We are trying to put their safety and security as a top priority and hopefully the 28th that we've been told is a timeline may be able to be moved up." Van Zyl said.
We reached out to the local teachers' associations today to find out how staff at the schools are handling the sudden news that in-person classes wouldn't be happening for at least a month.
This is the statement provided by the Missouri state teachers "MSTA is glad the district is taking the appropriate steps to remedy the situation. It is essential to do what we can to keep our staff and students safe. Our hearts staff and students as they navigate this unexpected find out more information about needs, MSTA will continue supporting staff and students what they need to teach and learn safely."