Crews cleaning mold from elementary school, first day delayed

Published: Aug. 15, 2013 at 8:51 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2013 at 8:51 PM EDT
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LUGOFF, SC (WIS) - The first day of school for Lugoff Elementary School students will be delayed until Thursday, Aug. 22 to allow time for thorough cleaning and air quality tests for areas of mold that were discovered late last week.

"We just cant take a chance on one child or one adult coming back in here and having you know any type of health problems," said Billy Smith, Executive Director of Operations at Kershaw County Schools. "We want to be as preventative as we can."

A teachers returning to school found mold in her desk drawer. School officials found surface mold in 14 classrooms.

Crews have been cleaning up the mold since it was discovered.

"If that chair is standing there, you'd think there's just dust down there but when you look closer and you use the light on it, you can see there's stuff growing on it," said Smith.

The health office and seven classrooms have been sealed off and are getting a white glove cleaning from floor to ceiling, from curtains to the desks.  Seven other classrooms will be cleaned and get HEPA filters to clean the air.

"The air monitoring company will then take their samples send them off to be tested and within 24 hours, usually within 24 hours, we will have those test results back," said Smith. "Until we get that we don't want anybody coming in here. We don't feel good about anybody coming in here."

Meaning that start-of-school tradition, open house at Lugoff Elementary, is canceled.

"We're going to have the Kindergarten orientation the night before we open on the 21st and we think that's important because those are our first time school families and they definitely want to come in and meet the teachers," said District Spokesperson Mary Anne Byrd.

All other Kershaw County School District (KCSD) schools will open on Monday, Aug. 19.

"Like other communities across the state, we have experienced a heavy amount of rainfall recently, and this has created more moisture in the building at Lugoff Elementary," said KCSD Superintendent Frank Morgan.  "At the end of last week as teachers returned, we discovered areas of mold in several of the school's classrooms. Over the past few days, we have worked with a professional cleaning company to address the problem but learned this morning that more classrooms are impacted than we originally thought."

Morgan said that using an abundance of caution was the best solution in this situation to allow the professional cleaning company time to do its job thoroughly and then test the air quality as well as allow teachers time to return to set up their classrooms.  "I apologize for the disruption that this delay causes in family schedules," said Morgan. "We greatly appreciate the patience and cooperation of Lugoff Elementary School families as we work to resolve this situation."

The superintendent said that the cleaning company has told the school district that once the building is properly cleaned, the problem should be resolved and not recur.

"The company we are using is actually working with a number of other schools across the state so this problem is not unique to us but is unfortunately what can happen in a building that is more than 40 years old," said Morgan.

Lugoff Elementary School's kindergarten orientation will be rescheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 21 and other missed grade level parent orientations will be rescheduled for later dates.

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