Officials hope to eliminate mold at school byJanuary
WESTPORT — Thirty classrooms and the seventh-grade hallway at Coleytown Middle School, identified for possible mold contamination, should be fully inspected and remediated by January.
As it stands, 14 classrooms have been inspected and eight of them had work done to eliminate the mold. Further work will be on hold until Thanksgiving recess, according to School Business Operations Director Elio Longo.
“During the Thanksgiving recess, we will address four classrooms: 116, 117, 106 A/B and, if possible, room 105,” Longo said. “Depending on what we find, we will add additional classrooms if time allows.”
The seventh-grade hallway, along with the remaining 12 classrooms will be addressed over the holiday recess in December.
On Oct. 24, the Board of Education approved $93,822 for mold abatement in the first 14 classrooms. Longo expects the entire project to cost up to $250,000. Approximately 25 percent of the Board of Education Carryover Account has been expended and currently sits at $414,571, down from $531,894.
In late August, a custodian discovered mold in classroom 133 which was subsequently remediated. Shortly thereafter, Bryan Davis, a seventh-grade teacher at the school, reported a “musty, dank smell” in neighboring room 131, said Coleytown Middle School Principal Kris Szabo.
Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said the mold issue stems from a design flaw in the unit ventilator of the walls and substandard insulation. Around 20 years ago, unit ventilators were installed in the 30 rooms in question and cabinetry, made of press board wood, was built inches above the system. The wood trapped the moisture from the ventilator creating the mold issue, Longo said.
Despite the work, Szabo said there has been “no impact on instruction.” While the seventh-grade classrooms were out of commission, the affected seventh-grade teachers and students were relocated to computer labs. Szabo added because the students took their fall literacy and math benchmark evaluations in the computer labs, instruction time wasn’t compromised.
As for concerned parents, Szabo said, “I’m not getting calls or question from parents,” lauding the administration’s transparency throughout the process.
“I think because we’ve been sharing information all along and making information available, parents have been getting information but there’s nobody asking questions,” Szabo said.
There has been no spike in nurse visits, nor have there been any complaints of allergy onset by students, Szabo said.
In classrooms 130, 128 and 125, were traces of potentially harmful fungi. Stachybotrys — in all three — and Paecilomyces in room 125. Paecilomyces can cause various infections in humans and Stachybotrys, which can produce mycotoxins, can be harmful if the toxins are inhaled, ingested and exposed to skin.
“When school started, we have paid very close attention to this. If in fact she (school nurse) saw something, she would bring it to our attention,” Szabo said.
“No one in the building at any time was exposed to mold when it was being addressed because it was properly contained and abated,” she added.