West Rowan Middle will be closed until Sept. 9 as school is deep cleaned for mold

Published 2:51 pm Friday, August 26, 2022

SALISBURY — West Rowan Middle School’s doors will stay closed to students and staff for another two full weeks as the district attempts to purge mold growth.

On Thursday, parents were notified in a letter from principal Lydia Richmond that the school would continue remote learning until Sept. 9 while contractors work in the building.

The school hosted a webinar for parents on the issue Friday morning.

RSS Chief Operations Officer Anthony Vann said the school’s ceiling tiles were being removed Friday and more workers are coming in to completely clean the school’s ventilation systems. He said work will continue through the weekend and until the job is complete.

Vann said there is no cost estimate on the cleaning and tile replacement yet, though the district has filed an insurance claim for the issue.

Environmental testing earlier this week found elevated indoor levels of the fungi genus aspergillus or penicillium. The molds are usually harmless, but at high enough levels they can cause some people to become ill. Indoor mold tests typically show both molds because they are the same size and shape.

Vann said custodial staff at West saw evidence of mold growth stemming from the school’s HVAC system earlier this month. The school was tested but did not show elevated mold levels. Custodial staff cleaned the area but the growth reappeared days later. On Monday afternoon, a second test showed high mold levels.

That evening, the district sent a message to parents letting them know the school would be closed until the end of the week. An anonymous tip the Post received earlier this week said the cleaning would take longer.

As of Tuesday, Vann would not speculate as to how long the process would take, only saying the district would know more in a few days as contractors came on site.

In the meantime, the district is coordinating pickups, both of tablets and mobile hotspots, as well as meals for students.

Meals are being provided at no cost from West Rowan Elementary from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and parents should fill out this form.

Are you a staff member or do you have a student that has suffered respiratory symptoms while attending West Middle? Email carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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