The first day of class may be delayed in two Bethlehem Area School District buildings because of mold, district officials said Thursday.
Staff members at Farmersville Elementary School found “suspected mold” in classrooms in one section of the school Wednesday, a week after a similar discovery was made at East Hills Middle School.
Classes are scheduled to get under way across the district on Monday.
The discovery at Farmersville Elementary prompted the district to postpone a scheduled Kindergarten orientation on Thursday night, while officials work on a cleanup plan, according to a memo from Mark Stein, the district’s director of facilities and operations, and school Principal Jennifer Hilton.
“Due to the number of rooms that need to be cleaned and available for students, it is possible that school will need to be closed on Monday,” says the memo, which can be viewed on the district’s Website.
If the decision to keep Farmersville Elementary closed on Monday is made, that information will be made available to via parent-link, the district’s online notification system, and on the school’s Website, the memo says.
Meanwhile at East Hills, where an emergency cleanup operation began last Friday, a contractor was re-cleaning classrooms on Thursday—the day after an indoor air quality test was taken by a certified industrial hygienist.
The air quality test showed improvement—a lower level of mold than what can be found outdoors, according to another memo from Stein and East Hills Principal David Horvath.
Nonetheless, the cleanup continues “out of an ongoing abundance of caution,” according to the memo, which can also be found on the district’s Website. Air quality testing will continue throughout the weekend.
The memo says some students may be relocated to other classrooms inside the building during the first day or days of class. “There is also a distinct possibility that we will not be ready to open school on Monday,” the memo says.
The school board voted Monday to retroactively hire contract Sargent Enterprises Inc. at a rate of $87 an hour to complete the remediation. Total costs in the bid are not to exceed $80,000.
The scope of work in the affected rooms included damp wiping all non-porous surfaces with a hospital grade disinfectant including all furniture, walls and floors. All porous surfaces were to be cleaned using a HEPA filter equipped vacuum including all ceilings, books and carpets.
High humidity in the building’s east wing and several classrooms in the west wing were judged to be the reason for the mold growth by the district’s facilities department. The district deployed de-humidifiers and air scrubbers to affected parts of the building and increased the air conditioning.