Damp and mouldy classrooms causing sickness, principal says

Murrays Bay School principal Ken Ward said the wait for new classrooms had been frustrating.
ZIZI SPARKS/FAIRFAX NZ

Murrays Bay School principal Ken Ward said the wait for new classrooms had been frustrating.

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.

Murrays Bay School principal Ken Ward said ageing classrooms at his school were making pupils sick.
EMILY FORD/FAIRFAX NZ

Murrays Bay School principal Ken Ward said ageing classrooms at his school were making pupils sick.

"They're getting sick all the time … It's contributing to [their poor health] at least."

READ MORE: Overcrowding forces Auckland schools to get creative to find teaching spaces

Ward said the classrooms had passed their usable life and had been unsafe "for a long time".

Replacement classrooms have been at Murrays Bay School since February but there was a delay in getting building consent ...
DENISE PIPER/STUFF

Replacement classrooms have been at Murrays Bay School since February but there was a delay in getting building consent to make them usable.

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.

Paint and mould treatment was carried out regularly at the school.
DENISE PIPER/STUFF

Paint and mould treatment was carried out regularly at the school.

However, the ministry had only just received building consent for work to make the classrooms usable, he said.

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"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'?"

 - Stuff

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