West Elementary students will be going to a different school starting March 2, but their teachers and classmates will be the same.
About 30 staff members and 90 students at West, a school near University Park which is being evacuated due to a mold problem revealed through an inspection in late January, will relocate to Discovery Elementary School on 43rd Avenue South.
An audience of about 80 parents and others who assembled for a meeting Wednesday, Feb. 19, at West heard details of an evacuation plan -- and what it will mean for their families -- presented by school district officials.
West students will not all be together at Discovery, but each West classroom will be kept intact and located in an area with the same grade-level classrooms, said Jody Thompson, associate superintendent of elementary education for the Grand Forks school district.
West teachers visited Discovery on Wednesday to see where their classrooms will be located.
An open house for West parents and students to visit Discovery is planned for 3 to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28. If parents cannot be present at that time, Thompson said, Discovery staff will welcome them when they can visit.
About 40 children in the Early Childhood Special Education program at West will relocate to Phoenix Elementary School, which also has an ECSE classroom, Superintendent Terry Brenner said at the meeting.
The inspection at West revealed a type of mold “that is typically known as black mold,” said Chris Arnold, director of buildings and grounds for Grand Forks Public Schools. “And I’m not comfortable with the potential for a wet spring.”
The mold poses too great a health risk to allow West to continue to function as a learning environment while remediation work is in progress, Arnold said in response to a parent’s question about the need for evacuation.
“I’m glad they’re fixing the problem and getting West to where it needs to be, and we can be back and start fresh next year,” said Tracey Taylor, a West parent.
Her daughter, Sheylynn, 9, said she is “nervous” about attending a different school, when asked about her feelings after the meeting.
“She’s a third-grader in Mrs. Raymond’s class,” Taylor said. “She loves going to school at West.”
Like many parents who spoke in Wednesday’s meeting, Taylor expressed concern about transportation.
“We live right across the street from West, so she walks to school,” she said. “It’ll be a change, but we’ll get through it.”
Free bus transportation, to and from Discovery, will be available for West students who live in the school’s attendance area, Thompson said.