Mold levels still too high in one Coleytown Middle School classroom
WESTPORT — After a weekend of remediation in a Coleytown Middle School classroom, mold levels are still higher than desired and the classroom remains closed to staff and students.
Environment consultant Hygenix, Inc., worked through the weekend to remove mold from Room 223, a sixth- through eighth-grade STEM classroom, according to Westport Public Schools Director of School Business Operations Elio Longo. Mold was found to a lesser degree in an additional two classrooms — 221 and 126 — and is expected to be removed over the Thanksgiving holiday break.
Tests of the air quality performed Sunday by Hygenix revealed it was “within clean air range,” according to Longo, but tests of the classroom’s ventilator remained too high. Contractors, who began work on the classroom Nov. 16, were called back to the school on Monday to remove more of the mold.
“The classroom remains off use until we receive a satisfactory post-test result on the unit ventilator,” Longo said. The results of the Monday remediation were expected by Wednesday morning at the latest, Longo said, but as of noon Wednesday, Longo had not responded to requests for the newest mold levels.
The three latest classrooms bring the total number of rooms remediated due to mold to 30, plus one hallway.
Mark Cooper, director of the Westport-Weston Health District, has worked closely with Longo and the Westport School District to develop a remediation plan after mold was found at Coleytown in the summer of 2016.
The project completion has been late — it was originally slated to wrap in January — and come in over budget . The project was initially expected to cost $250,000 but has so far cost the district $628,560, not including the remediation of the three-recently identified classrooms. Longo estimated a cost of $20,000 to remediate each of the three remaining classrooms.
Though the remediation project has dragged on, Cooper said that Westport Schools have gone above and beyond the normal call of duty to remedy the mold problem.
“The fact of the matter is, with all the leaf litter and the moist conditions this year, there’s mold everywhere. You name a spot and you test for it, you’re going to find mold,” Cooper said. “The key is trying to keep the mold colonies less than what you normally might find outside.”
Other than closing individual classrooms in which mold has been identified for remediation, Coleytown has not shut down at any point since the mold was discovered. Its presence, however, can affect the air quality in classrooms.
“Mold could trigger an asthma attack, stuffy nose or cold-like symptoms. But the major concern is an asthma attack,” said Cooper.
Longo said he has routinely checked in with Coleytown’s nurse, as well as with Cooper, to determine whether any mold-related health complaints had been received. He said that none had.
“There’s no need to worry, no need to panic,” Cooper said. “The school has shown an abundance of caution.”