Trinity High and Weaverville Elementary School students will be getting an extra 10 days of summer vacation this year following last week’s emergency action by the Trinity Alps Unified School District Board of Trustees to delay the start of school due to the presence of black mold in most of the district’s facilities.
Opening day was originally scheduled for Monday, Aug. 19, but that has been postponed to Tuesday, Sept. 3, following the Labor Day holiday on Sept. 2. Teachers will be reporting for duty as scheduled on Aug. 19, allowing time to settle into their new classrooms located in portable buildings currently being installed. Student orientation is set for Monday, Aug. 26, at both schools and buses will be running.
Since mold was initially detected inside the Weaverville Elementary School cafeteria at the end of the last school year in June, all district facilities have now been tested at each school site, forcing the closure of most.
Cafeterias, gyms, libraries, administration/business offices and most classrooms at both campuses have been sealed to all entry due to public health concerns over high mold spore counts revealed in the testing. The district office building also tested positive for mold, forcing its relocation to the Alps View Continuation High School buildings down the hill from the Trinity High School campus.
A total of 26 portable buildings have been rush-ordered to provide suitable classroom space and allow school to resume in September. Site maps are still being developed and will be posted this week on the district’s website along with other updates as they become available. That address is www.tausd.org.
The district will seek a hardship waiver from the state allowing for the shortened school year down from 180 instructional days to 170 for the students. Plans are also being made to extend the school year by nine days for up to 50 kindergarten through fifth grade students whose families may need that beginning Aug. 20. Children enrolled in that program through Weaverville Elementary will be bused to Cox Bar Elementary School where there will be daily instructional activities and meals will be served.
Many other emergency plans are in the works, thanks to the help of numerous volunteers, district staff members and community organizations offering use of their own facilities for free and stepping up to serve on assorted strategic planning teams meeting weekly to focus on specific issues.
“That has been the shining light through all of this. The only way we are going to be able to run the district is with the help of our neighbors,” said District Supt. Jaime Green.
Specifically, plans are under way to locate school district cafeteria staff in the kitchen at the county jail to prepare meals for delivery to school sites.
The Trinity County Library in Weaverville is also working with the district to provide library access for students.
Many other schools (Lewiston, Burnt Ranch, Douglas City, Junction City and Shasta Union school districts) have offered free use of their gymnasiums for athletic practice, games and even dances. So have several churches.
Green said all sights are set right now on preparing the portable, temporary facilities for the start of school in an environment that is safe for students and staff alike. He said no programs have been cut, and in fact, the high school athletics program is adding swimming at the Lowden Park pool.
“We will have school as usual. It just looks different,” he said.
All mold-related discussions are being held in a public forum before the district Board of Trustees, Green said, and test results will be shared online. Future timelines, costs and remediation needs are all unknown at this time until contractors start submitting bids.
The district will apply to the state for hardship, emergency funds, but that is a months-long process with an uncertain outcome. In the meantime, it has been using its $1.7 million reserve to pay for initial expenses associated with getting the schools back in operation, “and we’re hoping that’s enough,” Green said.