Education

Tates Creek High has more air quality issues. This time, it’s carbon dioxide problems.

Tates Creek High School in Lexington
Tates Creek High School in Lexington

Lexington’s Tates Creek High School, which has had sporadic air quality issues, has been having problems with equipment that regulates levels of carbon dioxide, school officials said Wednesday.

Carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning carbon and organic compounds and by respiration.

According to the website co2meter.com, higher levels of carbon dioxide in schools have been found to correlate with increased student sickness and absenteeism.

Fayette County Public Schools district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said in a statement Wednesday that three air make up units, which help regulate levels of carbon dioxide, have been down in Tates Creek High School’s building.

Deffendall said that in August, the Fayette school board approved the plans for a brand new Tates Creek High School building to address the ongoing issues with the existing facility. In the meantime, she said school officials are continually monitoring the indoor air quality at Tates Creek High so they can stay ahead of any problems.

In late August, monitoring revealed that there were elevated carbon dioxide levels in some areas of the building, Deffendall said. The week before Labor Day, the district maintenance department determined that the air make up units, which help regulate levels of carbon dioxide, were down in one area of the building.

Repairs to three of the air handlers were completed before Labor Day, and district officials saw reduction in carbon dioxide levels in some areas of the building, she said.

“However, there are six air make up units in that part of the building and we have continued to have issues with them,” said Deffendall.

Due to the age of the HVAC system, the manufacturer no longer makes parts for the system, but district officials were able to order them from a distributor. They were supposed to arrive two weeks ago, but instead arrived Wednesday, she said.

Deffendall said the installation process has begun and district officials anticipated having those air handling units back online Thursday.

On Thursday night, Tates Creek Principal Marty Mills told families in a letter: I “have received confirmation that repairs are complete and the three air make up units that were down are working and functioning properly. This means that all six air units are now working and functioning properly in that part of the building and we expect to see a rapid improvement.”

“We will continue to monitor the air quality levels in the building and look for a solution that will ensure the safety of students and staff while the new school is under construction,” Deffendall said Wednesday.

Mills said in a statement Wednesday that he has worked closely with district officials and faculty members to find an immediate solution to the carbon dioxide issue, “while we excitedly anticipate a long-term solution with our new building.”

“We have been diligent about seeking solutions and making accommodations for students and staff in the affected areas, including portable air conditioners, dehumidifiers, fans and class relocation,” Mills said.

In January 2018, a Tates Creek High School teacher and parent told Fayette County Board of Education members that mold and poor air quality in the school were affecting the health of students and staff, and making it harder for students to learn. That same month, some students at Tates Creek High School wore surgical masks to classes to protest problems with mold and poor air quality in the school that reportedly were affecting the health of students and staff.

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