Mold found in several Fayette schools

Mold was found in several Fayette County schools once the school year began. A number of teachers reported symptoms of allergies and the mold has been removed.

The most significant presence of the fungi was found in five science labs at McIntosh High School prior to the beginning of classes, and staff members were not allowed in the area until the problem was addressed.

School system Facilities Director Mike Satterfield said there were several schools that experienced a mold problem over the summer. The most significant of those was at McIntosh.

Mold was found in five science labs a week or two before school started, Satterfield said, noting that the substance was found in areas such as inside drawers and glass cabinets that house lab equipment. Satterfield said an outside company was brought in to remediate the problem and provided a clearance letter once the job was complete.

Satterfield said teachers were not allowed in those classrooms until the mold problem was remediated.

Lesser amounts of mold were found at three or four elementary schools and at Rising Starr Middle School during the second week of school, Satterfield said, adding that those were problems, such as the need to wipe down some desks, were addressed and the mold was removed. Satterfield said mold at Rising Starr was found in an old piano in the auditorium. The mold was removed and the HVAC system was treated, he said.

A number of teachers at the affected schools complained of symptoms of allergies prior to the time the mold was removed, Satterfield said.

Satterfield said mold is something that occurs in schools on occasion and especially during the summer months due to issues such as the age and condition of the school and leaking roofs that cover the school system’s 4 million square feet of space.

“Some roofs are in great shape and others are waiting to be replaced,” Satterfield said of the school system’s roof replacement schedule.

Adding to the potential for mold formation is the constant mopping of floors that puts moisture in the air.

Conditions this summer presented an unusual challenge, Satterfield said. The energy management program calls for thermostats to be set at 78 degrees in most areas of schools during the summer months and the air conditioner does not run on weekends.

“This summer we had a large volume of rain and the coolest summer since 1984. So the HVAC systems were not running as much,” Satterfield said. “We battled mold more this summer than we have in years.”

The occurrence of mold has actually decreased in more recent years once the carpet that once populated the school system’s classrooms was replaced with tile. Making the point, Satterfield noted that while both surfaces are cleaned, tile dries much quicker than carpet and leaves more moisture in the air that can help produce mold.

There are only two elementary schools today that still have carpeted classrooms, Satterfield added.

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