Students in the Grade 9/10 CHAOS program will continue using another portable space at Porter Creek Secondary School as remediation work continues on the portable that had been identified for the program for the 2020/2021 school year.
A window was left open on the portable Aug. 10, resulting in water damage inside, officials said. A small amount of mould was then found on a wall and subsequently in a surface sample, Jennifer Macgillivray, an assistant deputy minister for the Department of Highways and Public Works, said in a Sept. 1 interview.
Macgillivray said the portable will remain closed for two to four weeks while remediation work is done and the air will be re-tested afterwards. Only then will a decision be made on how the portable may be used in the future.
The space had been previously used for school storage.
School superintendent Paul McFadyen said while the space had been planned to house the CHAOS (Community, Heritage, Adventure, Outdoors and Skills) program, another portable at the school was available for CHAOS with all Wood Street Centre students that are at the school this year having space available for their programs.
The CHAOS program is one of several experiential high school programs typically operated out of the Wood Street Centre school downtown.
It, and other programs offered out of the Wood Street Centre, were moved from Wood Street this year to Porter Creek and F.H. Collins Secondary School, while Grade 8 F.H. Collins students were moved to the Wood Street Centre as part of the Department of Education’s measures to deal with COVID-19.
McFadyen stressed that the department recognizes the importance of the experiential programs and wanted to ensure they continued even with the changes COVID has brought. That meant finding space for the programs at other schools.
“We had to make some tough decisions,” he said.
Concerns over air quality in the portables at Porter Creek that are being used by both the CHAOS and FACES (French Achievement Challenge Environment Stewardship) programs also prompted an investigation by the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board (WCB) with air quality testing being done by a third party for that investigation in the first couple of days of school.
The concerns were brought forward by the Wood Street Health and Safety committee.
Students from both programs were moved to other parts of the school while the investigation was underway.
Two of the three portables were deemed safe for occupancy while the third has been kept closed and the investigation is continuing, board spokesperson Andrew Robulack said in a Sept. 1 interview, noting he could not comment on details of the investigation when it is ongoing.
Wood Street principal Darren Hayes has posted information for families on the school’s website.
“We have moved the CHAOS program into portable P3B which has been approved for use by students and staff,” Hayes stated in an Aug. 26 update to an Aug. 20 statement about the investigation. “The test result for portable P3A (FACES space) determined that after a visual inspection including air quality tests that the space has been approved for use by students and staff.”
It goes on to note that the Yukon Workers Health and Safety Board is working with the territory on an assessment of heating, ventilation and air conditioning for all portables. The portables will also be assessed for radon as part of the efforts to ensure a safe classroom space, he noted.
“The Wood Street Health and Safety Committee members have confidence in the investigation results and appreciate the support provided by WCB. We will provide updates to our school community as further information is provided,” Hays wrote.
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