Locker room clean up continues

ESCANABA — The Escanaba School Board heard an update on the progress of the mold clean-up at the locker room facility known as the “Igloo” at the high school football field Monday during a committee of the whole meeting.

Superintendent Coby Fletcher provided the update on mold abatement that has been taking place at the Igloo since it closed a couple of weeks ago. It closed after Building and Grounds Committee members toured the structure and found the locker room looked unsafe for use. According to Fletcher, since undergoing a deep clean, the building’s status has improved significantly.

“If you’ve had the opportunity to go through the Igloo, within the past three or four days… it’s quite a bit different than what it was when we had our last meeting there,” said Fletcher. “We’ve had (air) scrubbers in there working constantly for quite some time and it smells much better in there.”

The locker room facility closed in July due to high levels of mold found in the building after air quality tests were conducted. Fletcher explained the mold issues stem from many problems including water leaks, dirt and grass off of football player’s cleats mixing into an old carpet in sections of the structure, roof leakage, and poor ventilation.

Within a week of the air quality tests, a 79-page report came back and showed high levels of various types of mold including including Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Penicillium, Hyphal elements, Chaetomium, and Stachybotrys. Each kind of mold is grown and found when water damage is prevalent, along with plant and soil debris that may be inside a building.

As a result of the closure, high school football players, who mainly use that facility, are currently using tents as makeshift locker rooms.

In an effort to tackle the issue, Pearson Asbestos Abatement, Inc. stepped in to help with the mold abatement process. In total, the abatement and re-mediation of the Igloo will cost an estimated $14,000. These funds are being used within the budget, as contingency funds are set in place for emergencies such as these.

As of now, Fletcher said all of the affected carpet has been removed and damaged ceiling tiles were also taken out. In addition, wet drywall was removed from the locker room.

“We believe we have all of our bases covered as what we needed to do for the mold abatement,” said Fletcher. “Now we’re hoping those results show significant decrease in the amount of mold and other things that were floating around the air.”

Updated air quality tests that were conducted last week were not available for Monday’s meeting, but Fletcher said the results of those tests should be ready today. Pending the additional tests, Fletcher said the Igloo could open sooner than the Aug. 25 goal.

“I know they’re eager to get in there,” said Fletcher. “But they (football players and coaches) have been plugging away and making due, and doing a good job of it.”

To re-open, the air quality within the Igloo has to match that of the outside air, as this will prevent mold from growing again in the structure.

For now, some short-term fixes are in the works at the Igloo including placing a rubber matting on the concrete portions of the floor to prevent student athletes from falling on the hard surface.

Fletcher also addressed the board about long-term repairs that need to be done at the locker room including repairing the ventilation system and preventing future leaks.

“We don’t want to re-create the situation that we had,” said Fletcher.

School Board President Dan Flynn said he would prefer to see repairs done sooner rather than later, as the football personnel need a place to call “home” again.

“They need to get back in the locker room,” said Flynn. “They need to have home. But we need to do things with this and do it correct.”

In other business, the board heard an update on the summer cleaning that wrapped up throughout the district. Director of Operations Amy Cseter said the cleaning process at the schools went smoothly and everything has been scrubbed from top to bottom.

Board members also discussed the use of Northern Michigan University’s broadband Internet services as a way to provide more affordable Internet access to students within the Escanaba School District. Fletcher said he has been talking to the person in charge of getting the services to Escanaba and are currently in the final stages of completing that process.

In other action, the board also approved the hiring of two junior high assistant football coaches. Jared Dagenais will serve as the assistant seventh grade coach, while Josh Ling will take the reins as the eighth grade assistant coach.