Mold discoveries have delayed the first day of classes for two Atlantic County schools and have closed some classrooms in Ocean City High School.
The Weymouth Township School District will now open its lone school Tuesday instead of today, Superintendent Donna B. Van Horn said, while the district takes the time to clean and test.
Northfield Community School will not open as scheduled today because mold was found on the second floor of the building Wednesday afternoon, according to an announcement on the school's website.
The Northfield school will also be closed on Friday, Superintendent Janice Fipp said in the announcement. Fipp said the goal is to reopen on Monday if the school is deemed safe. Mold was discovered around 1 p.m. Wednesday. A test showed it was Cladosporium, a common form of airborne mold. Fipp said testing and clean up will continue this morning.
Meanwhile, Ocean City will close six classrooms and the auditorium in its high school when it opens for classes today after finding mold Wednesday.
They are the fourth, fifth and sixth local districts affected by mold problems recently.
Somers Point announced Tuesday that it would delay the start of classes at the Jordan Road school until at least Monday. School officials in two Cape May County districts also discovered mold in schools this summer, but the problems were fixed and school started on schedule in Middle and Upper townships.
Van Horn, who also serves as Weymouth Township Elementary School’s principal, said the mold was uncovered Aug. 30, when staff were doing what she called “our routine, end-of-the-summer, white glove inspection.” The 200-student school in the township’s Dorothy section runs from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
The inspection revealed “minimal signs of mildew” in the school’s music room and adjacent music storage room, she said. Subsequent investigation found mildew in several other rooms.
The district contacted Paul Davis Restoration, a national chain of emergency remeditators, Van Horn said. She said the firm said the mildew seemed confined, recommended the district use dehumidifiers and scheduled a cleaning crew to begin work Wednesday morning.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency said mold can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs. Dead mold can still cause an allergic reaction, the EPA warned, so the agency recommended all must be cleaned.
“The cleaning is in full swing, the testing continues, and we are looking for an opening of 9/11 for all students and staff,” she said Wednesday afternoon.
She said the district was confident that the mold was discovered just as it had begun to spread.
“It really is minimal,” Van Horn said. “Unless you really knew what you were looking for, you wouldn’t find it. But we’re not taking any chances, especially with student safety.”
At Ocean City High School, the six affected classrooms and auditorium will likely close through the week until tests can confirm that the problem is fully gone, Ocean City Business Administrator Thomas Grossi said Wednesday afternoon.
Cleanup crews planned to work through the night to remediate the issues first found late Tuesday night and early Wednesday.
Grossi blamed the issue on exceptional humidity in recent days.
“The high humidity the last couple of days has put a lot of schools back,” Grossi said. “The HVACs just can’t keep up.”
Grossi said Coastal Environmental Compliance of Hammonton, which has also performed remediation in Somers Point this week, is doing the cleaning in Ocean City.
Grossi also said the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems in Ocean City High School are zoned so that air issues in one zone should not affect other rooms that will remain open. He said classes will be rearranged to accommodate students who would have been taught in the closed classrooms.
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