High Humidity Forces Temporary Halcyon Hall Closure
Story by Washington Adventist University Staff
After a particularly rainy spring and summer, in which The Washington Post reported the D.C. area received nearly a year’s worth of rain during the first seven months of the year, followed by significant rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Florence, Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md., recently had Halcyon Hall, the women’s residence, and other buildings tested for mildew and mold by a board certified industrial hygienist.
The testing confirmed the presence of allergenic, though not lethal forms of mold in several rooms. Fortunately, the dormitory tested negative for Stachybotrys/Memnoniella, the more dangerous, so-called “black mold” most commonly linked to illness.
Consistent with our priority concern for student safety and comfort, WAU took immediate action on the industrial hygienist’s recommendation and initiated an evacuation of Halcyon Hall on Friday, September 28, in order to ensure student safety and facilitate remediation of the situation.
The women’s residence is now temporarily closed. Remediation work formally commenced on Tuesday, October 2. Halcyon Hall residents have relocated to a nearby hotel, and WAU has made arrangements for shuttle transportation, expanded food service and is working to minimize interruption to teaching and learning during this fall semester. The remediation work is expected to be competed in approximately 2-4 weeks.
“We have no higher priority than the safety and security of the students entrusted to us,” WAU President Weymouth Spence affirmed. “In accordance with my commitment to our students’ success and well-being, I have launched a series of on-site listening sessions for the ladies of Halcyon to answer any additional questions,” Spence added.
The following actions have been taken to assist the women of Halcyon Hall and remediate the situation in the residence hall:
- President Spence has directed the Facility Services team to remediate not only the rooms that tested positive for mold, but all of Halcyon Hall;
- The President has asked that work already begun, including remodeling the showers and upgrading lighting fixtures, be completed along with the remediation work;
- President Spence has initiated a series of twice-daily town hall meetings—on campus and at the hotel—to hear and address students’ questions and concerns;
- The university has expanded dining hall hours to accommodate our temporarily displaced students’ new schedules, provided 6 a.m.-11 p.m., shuttle service between campus and the hotel and encouraged professors to be flexible in collecting assignments while working diligently to ensure maximum learning for our students;
- The Office of Student Life team is hosting relocated students to breakfast in the hotel restaurant on Sabbath and Sunday mornings;
- WAU contracted with professional movers to assist Halcyon Hall residents in packing, removing and securing the belongings they were unable to take to the hotel to facilitate the remediation efforts;
- The Halcyon Hall deans have created a one-stop shop for the latest information. All inquiries and concerns about the Halcyon Hall remediation may be directed to HHatHolidayInn@wau.edu;
Today the Student Life team engaged a local business to provide our students at the hotel pick-up and delivery wash, dry and fold laundry service at WAU's expense.