HONOLULU (KHON2) — Parents and teachers of Holualoa Elementary have expressed frustration regarding mold, rats and other problems at the school.

In response to the concerns, The Hawaii Island State Teachers Association held a virtual news conference with teachers and parents from Holualoa Elementary on Monday, Feb. 20 at 10 a.m.

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The conference detailed the persistent problems with mold, structural damage, termites, rats and other maintenance difficulties at the school.

The Hawaii Department of Education, Holualoa School, issued a letter to parents on Jan. 20, stating that they are aware of the current condition of the school and are working to remedy the issues.

As part of their announcement, they said school will continue to operate and that affected classrooms will be relocated while proper work is done.

Hawaii Department of Education said on Tuesday, Jan. 17 the school team met with the Complex Superintendent and complex facility team to go over the state level mold testing report that had been completed Jan. 5.

They claim the report showed no evidence of “black mold” the most dangerous form; however, they said there was significant evidence of other common molds that may affect those who have sensitivity and/or allergies to these substances.

As part of the school’s plan to mitigate the issue, they said they will be using dehumidifiers and fans in classrooms with mold issues to circulate air and remove moisture at night.

They also planned to possibly increase air-conditioning throughout the school, remove carpets and apply mold inhibiting paint to walls, deep clean all rooms with mold issues and increase cleaning and upkeep overall.

A timeline has not been presented for the mitigation plan, but the school said back in January of this year that it is currently being scheduled by their team, the complex team and the state team.

During the virtual conference today, Vice President of the Hawaii Teachers Association, Logan Okita provided some clarity.

He said “Holualoa Elementary was founded in 1895. It has close to 500 students and about 50 faculty and staff; and in spite of the best efforts by its principal, faculty, custodial staff and parents, the state has continually failed to maintain the campus while underlying problems at the school persist and get even worse.”

HSTA said their primary goal is to obtain clarity from the state about a plan to address the situation.

They also spoke about how the problems have affected students and staff at Hōlualoa, including the temporary closure of a building and several classrooms which caused students to be relocated.

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HSTA is demanding an outline for which repair, maintenance and other projects will be completed at the school and a timeframe for when these will be done.