UC Riverside Temporarily Closes One Building of the Child Development Center

Families of about 14 children must seek alternative childcare

Early Childhood Services serves approximately 350 children each year.

Early Childhood Services serves approximately 350 children each year.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) -– UC Riverside has temporarily closed one building in the Child Development Center  in order to clean up mold growing behind the baseboards.

“After consulting with experts in the field who tested the air, we have decided that caution requires us to take swift action to protect the health of our children and the staff at the center,” said Jim Sandoval, vice chancellor of student affairs. “

That cautious approach means the families of about 14 children are making other childcare arrangements on very short notice.

There are two buildings at the Child Development Center, and while most of the 84 children from Building A can be moved to Building B temporarily, there are 14 children under the age of 5 who will not be able to come to the center at all until the Building A reopens.

“We have licensing requirements that mean we can only put a certain number of children in each classroom,” explained Renee Jacobs, executive director of the Child Development Center. She notified parents and staff about the mold problem Friday afternoon and then on Monday delivered the news that cleaning up the mold could take six weeks.

Mold is naturally occurring in the environment and will grow when there is a source of water, said Russell Vernon, director of UCR’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety. He said the cleanup will involve finding and fixing the source of the moisture, cleaning the area with a bleach solution and then installing new drywall and baseboards.

Vernon said one of the mold types showing up in preliminary testing is aspergillus. It is common in the environment and does not usually cause illness. However an individual with a weakened immune system may be susceptible to infection. “Basically, it is important to find the source of the water inside the walls and to get this fixed.”

A tentative reopening date, at first set for Dec. 1, has been revised. Campus building officials said it is too soon to say. The job must be done without a hard deadline so that safety is the top priority.

“We will be making recommendations for alternative care to the families of the 14 children impacted,” said Jacobs. “We are looking at creative solutions to make this easier for our families. We understand how inconvenient it is, and we are doing everything we can to help.”

Most of the children at the UCR Child Development Center have at least one parent who is a member of the UCR community. The center is also available to the community at large.

To the greatest extent possible, teachers will be kept with the children who know them, but in some cases staff members will have to be flexible, depending on the requirements of their contract.

“I want to thank everyone for their cooperation in what is a difficult time,” said Ron T. Coley, the vice chancellor for business services, including the units that will be cleaning up the building and testing it for safe air quality. “We have to err on the side of safety,” said Coley. “And we need to make sure that the community is informed.”

He said he was confident that his team could get the building repaired, cleaned and tested in short order.

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