Chelsea Woo, whose son is in kindergarten at Mountainview Montessori in the Guildford area, is concerned about mould, ventilation and other maintenance issues at her son’s elementary school. Woo sits next to some rodent netting on one of the school buildings. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Mom concerned about mould, ventilation issues at Surrey school

District says it is investigating and will look at other ways to ‘increase airflows’

A mother of a kindergarten student at Mountainview Montessori is alarmed by mould, ventilation and other maintenance issues at the Surrey elementary school.

Chelsea Woo presented to the board of education on Wednesday (June 12) on portables compared to permanent structures and the maintenance for the two different types of buildings. Woo’s presentation can be found here.

Woo said she did “a bit of a case study” on her son’s school Mountainview Montessori (15225 98th Ave.), which consists of portable buildings that the district describes as a “modular complex.”

READ ALSO: Surrey school trustees want to see reliance on portables reduced by 50% in five years, Sept. 21, 2018

She said there is no ventilation system in the buildings and there was mould found beneath the kindergarten portables.

Surrey Schools spokesperson Doug Strachan said independent consultants did an investigation of mould growth at the school after complaints of a mouldy smell.

“While some cleaning in the crawlspace was recommended and completed, the reports from different times of the year all found air quality was not impacted in the classrooms. There has also been drainage improvement work done,” Strachan said.

Portables need to be monitored for temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide, Woo said, adding that new portables already monitor carbon dioxide.

“Otherwise, how can you know that whether or not the environment is safe? And since they’re not monitored, we just can’t know,” she said. “I don’t think it’s just this school, I think it’s other schools too.”

Surrey Teacher’s Association president Matt Westphal said that portables are “more prone to mould and mildew” given they’re raised off the ground, adding that the “ventilation is terrible.”

The Mountainview structure, he said, is “long past its best-before date.”

The portables at Mountainview Montessori, according to Woo’s presentation, are “at least 27 years old” with 1992 manufacture dates, and were placed on the school grounds in February 2000.

Mountainview is listed as “medium” project priority for a school replacement, with Riverdale Elementary ahead of the montessori school.

Woo said the modular buildings at Riverdale are “brand new.” She said she thinks Mountainview should be made “high priority.”

“I’ve asked the criteria for making those decisions – high vs. medium vs. low (priority) for school replacement because, to me, it’s not quite clear why we’re medium priority when we’re literally deteriorating,” Woo said. “We’re so overdue for building replacements.”

Woo said that for a “first school experience,” it wasn’t what she was expecting.

“I know (my son) doesn’t know any different, but I know that’s not the school that I want my son to go to.”

Woo said she has her son on a waitlist for another school, and if accepted, she will be moving him “for sure.”

“But if he doesn’t, I want the bare minimum for them to put a ventilation system in.”

Board of education chair Laurie Larsen, who first heard from Woo at a May 15 board meeting, said she was shocked to hear about the issues at Mountainview.

“The board had asked the staff to present us with some of the issues that were there, so in the meantime, there’s been conversations with Chelsea and with the secretary-treasurer to try and address some of the concerns, but until that we hadn’t heard anything,” Larsen said Thursday, following the June 13 board meeting.

While Larsen hasn’t been on site to Mountainview, she said she has seen “quite a few” photos of the school from Woo’s presentation.

With the school year coming to an end, Larsen said the district will look at fixing some of the issues.

“Certainly the stairs will be addressed, I mean that will be something that will be done right away,” said Larsen, adding that the district will also look at the ventilation issues.

Strachan said that portable and modular buildings “don’t typically include HVAC systems.”

“However, because of the parent’s continuing concern about potential air quality problems, the district is further investigating and will look at ways to increase airflows,” Strachan said.

READ ALSO: The struggle for space inside Surrey’s elementary schools, June 13, 2019



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 case confirmed at Highstreet Walmart in Abbotsford

Fraser Health sends out letter to those who might have had contact with individual

Racism wasn’t dealt with properly by school, says Chilliwack graduate

Woman tells story of being verbally assaulted at school for being black

Public participation is coming back to Chilliwack council meetings

City of Chilliwack will use Zoom video conferencing to allow the public to make presentations

VIDEO: Trees fall into Vedder River as loop trail damaged by erosion

High stream flows directed at river bank caused section of Vedder Rotary loop trail to erode

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

VIDEO: Pitt Meadows dentist gets grand welcome home after two-month COVID-19 battle

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Stray dog with duct tape around muzzle spotted in Abbotsford

Pooch has been spotted over two days, but has escaped capture so far

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read