Damp and mouldy classrooms causing sickness, principal says
Pupils at an Auckland primary school are likely to be pleased the full force of winter has hit while they are on term holidays.
Five of the classrooms at Murrays Bay School on the North Shore are damp, mouldy, and with weeping water from the windows.
Principal Ken Ward said the classrooms were a health hazard, with pupils in the affected classrooms more likely to get sick than those in other parts of the school.
"They're getting sick all the time … It's contributing to [their poor health] at least."
Ward said the classrooms had passed their usable life and had been unsafe "for a long time".
Demolishing the classrooms and replacing them had been on the school's long-term plan for at least five years and was now well overdue.
But the Ministry of Education was slow in getting any form of replacement, Ward said.
In February, prefab classrooms were moved onto the school as a replacement for the dilapidated rooms.
However, the ministry had only just received building consent for work to make the classrooms usable, he said.
"There's still a bit of work until they can be used. I can't see us moving in until the next term break which is basically when the better weather starts.
"The ministry promised us there wouldn't be another winter [in the classrooms]."
The ministry's education infrastructure service head Kim Shannon said contractors were at the school on Thursday to carry out air quality testing and swabs.
A deep clean was scheduled for early next week.
"This will ensure that until the new classrooms are in place, the existing classrooms meet health and safety standards," Shannon said.
Building work would begin on July 24, when the five classrooms would be demolished and replaced with five new ones.
"We had been waiting on a building consent from the local authority, which we received on Monday," she said.
The new classrooms were already on site in a temporary location.
Shannon said the ministry drew up plans with the school to replace the classrooms in September 2016, committing half a million to the project.
"Of their current five-year capital funding allocation, the school had committed $347,340 to replacing ageing buildings. In September we agreed to provide them an extra $500,000 to top up those funds to carry out this work."
The school had $47,462 in funding from the ministry available for property maintenance.
But Ward said the school was doing everything possible to maintain the classrooms and clean the mould to keep the rooms healthy.
"As much as we can re-paint the mould and treat it, it comes back.
"It's an ongoing problem; when do you say, 'we need these people out of here'?"