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Cold water, mold worry parents at elementary

Principal at Farrer says heaters to be installed under sinks

PROVO — A Utah County Health Department inspector will visit Farrer Elementary School today to investigate a complaint that only cold water runs to classroom sinks where children wash their hands.

The health department received the complaint Tuesday from an unidentified complainant who indicated that a large portion of the school lacks hot water — an accusation denied by school administrators.

The discrepancy between the complainant and school officials prompted the health department to check it out, health department spokesman Lance Madigan said.

Principal Don Dowdle said Tuesday at a meeting with parents of children who attend the school that it takes time for hot water to arrive at the opposite side of the school from the water heater.

Water does run hot — it just takes a while, he said.

"Not that many classrooms have sinks," Dowdle said. He added that only a few rooms besides kindergarten and first-grade classes have sinks.

Dowdle said the school has found a solution to the problem. Small heaters will be installed under each sink in the part of the building that is far from the water heater.

The heaters are being ordered.

Parents at the meeting also complained about mold and air quality in general. Dowdle announced that a private company will test the air quality later this week to determine whether it contains high levels of particulates.

Parent Celeste Kennard said she sometimes can smell mold: "Some days it hits you like a brick wall," she said.

Teachers have complained they have felt sick since they moved from Joaquin Elementary into Farrer, which was a former middle school, at the beginning of the year, Dowdle said. Other teachers have told Dowdle they think the air is better than what they breathed at Joaquin.

The health department has not received complaints about mold at Farrer, Madigan said.

"Mold is not really a health risk unless you have some unique health conditions," Madigan said. "You hear about dangerous molds, and it's really not the case."

The Provo School District maintenance chief did not return a message left by the Deseret Morning News on Tuesday.


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com