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West Shore school to reopen Friday after being cleared of mold
Update: West Shore School District said Thursday evening that Allen Middle School will open Friday, Sept. 7.
The district announced on its Facebook page that 25 of 26 classrooms have been tested and are ready for students and staff. One room did not pass an air-quality test on Wednesday, and the district is waiting on test results for six other rooms that were tested on Thursday.
The school has rescheduled its Back to School Night to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19.
Previous update: West Shore School District announced Wednesday afternoon that Allen Middle School will remain closed the following Thursday, Sept. 6 for continuing mold issues.
The school's principal sent out a message to parents, students and staff informing them of the closure, also noting that back-to-school night will be rescheduled.
Twenty-six classrooms were tested for air quality Wednesday, with results anticipated by Thursday evening, according to the message. Six areas will also be tested Thursday, with results expected late Friday.
Principal Brian Granger stated the district will make every attempt to open on Friday, if sufficient rooms are available to hold classes. Families will be updated Thursday.
Original reporting: Mold problems in York County school districts persist, as West Shore discovered 11 buildings were affected last week — two of which must be closed for remediation.
Superintendent Todd Stoltz informed parents of the problem in an email sent out Sunday, Sept. 2, saying in most buildings, the problem areas were isolated without having to disrupt classes.
In cases where doors, furniture, supplies or equipment had mold growth, the items were cleaned or replaced, and some areas have been closed off until further notice.
Two schools, however, had more extensive concerns and will be closed through Wednesday, Sept. 5.
One of those is Allen Middle School, which had eight classrooms cleaned as of Tuesday, with 13 more scheduled for cleaning, along with common spaces such as locker rooms, the nurse's office and the auditorium.
Mold was initially reported in the district at Crossroads Middle School on Aug. 28, in a storage closet off of the main gym as well as the lower level in the classroom and locker room areas.
But additional mold was later found in the Technology Education rooms in the basement level, the music rooms, cafeteria and storage area adjacent to the cafeteria.
Both buildings are currently closed for remediation, and Stoltz anticipates Allen's closure might extend beyond Wednesday. Progress will be monitored, and parents will be notified Wednesday, he wrote in the email.
He expects some areas in Crossroads, such as storage, locker rooms and Tech Ed classrooms, will need to remain sealed and contained, but he is optimistic the rest of the building will be ready for students Thursday.
Nine other schools in the district were also affected:
- Fairview Elementary School: furniture showing signs of mold growth
- Fishing Creek Elementary School: furniture, air quality tests showed spore count high in library and Room 26, instrument cases in music rooms
- Highland Elementary School: Rooms 110 and 112, furniture and clipboards
- Lower Allen Elementary School: furniture
- Newberry Elementary School: furniture, outside vestibule entrances (which lead to restrooms or storage areas with wooden doors), wooden doors, degraded air quality near those areas
- New Cumberland Middle School: band room, Tech Ed area, counters in Health Room, tennis rackets in boys' locker room
- Red Land High School: high spore count in Room 241, Rooms 112-118
- Rossmoyne Elementary School: table in office area
- Washington Heights Elementary School: Rooms 102 and 103, carpeting
The district plans to continue to inspect and remediate this week, as needed, because of the high humidity, which provides optimal growing conditions.
"It is important to realize that there are many different kinds of mold, some of which are easily identified and others which are not," Stoltz wrote, explaining why it had not been detected earlier.
Some of the recently discovered mold had developed unseen, without typical indications such as musty smells, according to the email, and since mold can grow in 24-48 hours, it could have been missed by summer cleaning or cropped up with the recent weather.
To prevent mold from recurring, storage closets will be routinely checked, and old wooden furniture and upholstered chairs, as well as lab tables, will be replaced temporarily with plastic.
The district is working with the state Department of Education to determine if students will need to make up missed days.
"At the heart of each choice to open or close a school, to close a classroom or space, is our desire to make the best possible decision for all our children and our staff in the West Shore School District," Stoltz wrote.
Updates will be shared with families at affected schools as they become available.