Spring flood haunts school in autumn

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
09/26/2007

GUILFORD – April’s heavy flooding left its mark on Elisabeth C. Adams Middle School in the form of potentially dangerous black mold in a basement classroom.

A month after discovering the problem, school officials are working to clean up the mold and get students and teachers back into their regular classrooms, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella said.

An initial air quality test has determined that the mold is not airborne, Forcella said. He added that there have been no more illnesses than usual in the first few weeks of the school year.

“We did check the air in the basement to see if any of the spores were in the air (and) if there was any cause for concern regarding the mold and the air quality,” he said. “One of the tests they use is to compare it to the outside air, and actually there’s less mold inside the basement than there was outside.”

Mold can cause allergic reactions and exacerbate respiratory illnesses like asthma.

Forcella said that workers found the mold behind wallboard in the basement while doing repairs.

A severe April rainstorm left about 4 inches of water in the basement.

For now, administrators have moved all students and staff out of the basement, which houses six classes and a few offices. But since most of the school’s other classrooms are full, the teachers and students have to move around throughout the school day.

“Unfortunately there’s not space available, so the teachers had to put supplies and materials on carts and then move from classroom to classroom wherever there was an open space,” Forcella said.

He added that he hopes the analysis and cleanup will be completed within the next few weeks.

Once the district receives the results of the mold testing, it will know where it needs to remove wallboard and disinfect classrooms.

Forcella said that, in his two years as superintendent in Guilford, the basement at Adams Middle School has flooded twice. No other schools in the district have flooding issues.

Officials are hoping to work with the town engineer to try to prevent the problem in the future.

For now, they will monitor the situation and immediately look for mold if the basement floods.

“It will happen again if it floods again – especially in the spring and then over the summer with the humidity, it’s a breeding ground for mold,” Forcella said. “As long as we can prevent the flooding, we can prevent the mold.”

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