Mold forces two schools to move class
By CAMERON COLLINS
The Leaf-Chronicle

Mold in Montgomery Central High School and Northeast Middle School has forced officials to move classes and clean heating and air conditioning systems this academic year.


At MCHS, the air conditioner will have to be replaced.
But the mold situation is not as bad as it was recently in East Tennessee, where three local schools were closed because of toxic conditions.


School officials said contributing factors, such as high humidity, allowed the mold to grow in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning units.


"It's not often we have the high humidity we've experienced, and there are some (HVAC) designs that can cause more mold," said Joe Haley, schools' chief operations officer.


"There's one room at Central High we're still not using because we didn't want to take any chances."


Mold was discovered in three rooms in the math building at MCHS. Students were moved from the most-affected room, and all of the affected classrooms have been cleaned.


The school system's maintenance department will replace the air conditioning units at MCHS with ones that have an anti-humidity control.


The work will continue through winter.


At Northeast Middle, mold was discovered in areas where the air conditioning wasn't working properly, particularly in the band room. Band classes were temporarily relocated to the theater.


At both schools, the affected HVAC units were cleaned using a mold-destroying chemical cleaner and air purifiers and dehumidifiers have been placed in affected areas.


Additionally, the carpet in Northeast Middle School's band room has been cleaned to remove traces of mold, and the instruments were professionally cleaned.


Schools' safety officer Tommy Butler said that indoor air-quality tests at both schools done after the clean-up have complied with Environmental Protection Agency safety standards.


In East Tennessee, officials closed an elementary school Monday after finding the toxic, or black mold on several ceiling tiles. All 325 students at Holston View Elementary were sent home with a letter informing parents the school was being closed and should reopen next week.


Nearby Sullivan East High was closed Oct. 7 for the same reason and still hasn't reopened. About 1,000 Sullivan East students currently are attending classes in the sky boxes at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Heritage High School in Blount County had to close in September for four weeks after mold sickened numerous students.


Mold can cause breathing problems in young children and the elderly. People also can develop health problems like coughing, wheezing, a runny nose, eye and throat irritation, skin rashes and diarrhea.


Cameron Collins covers education and can be reached at 245-0716 or at cameroncollins@theleafchronicle.com.
Originally published Wednesday, November 6, 2002

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