Waynesville does final mold remediation, hopes to open high school Tuesday

Students in grades 7-12 will start classes at least two weeks later than planned

Students in grades 7-12 at Waynesville Junior/Senior High School could be back in the classroom by Tuesday, Aug. 30, according to Wayne Local Schools officials.

Superintendent Pat Dubbs said Thursday the district is awaiting the results of the third air quality test and the remainder of the cleaning crew’s work to be done over the weekend in the athletic wing.

“We’re getting more comfortable and leaning toward opening on Tuesday,” Dubbs said. “Representatives of the Warren County Health District met with school district leadership this afternoon to review environmental analysis reports. The health district noted that the school district has taken this very seriously using aggressive measures to remediate the mold numbers and to prevent future reoccurrences.”

Dubbs said throughout the remediation process the mold numbers inside the high school have taken a positive trend downward. He said these low numbers indicate the air samples did not detect, relative to the outside air, the presence of indoor mold growth.

“The best approach was to go above and beyond,” Dubbs said.

A report issued Thursday afternoon by Tara Thornton, environmental health specialist supervisor with the Warren County Combined Health District, described a meeting Wednesday to discuss the current mold remediation project at Waynesville High School.

The meeting, which included a walk-through of the building, was attended by representatives from Wayne Local Schools, including the superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal, and teachers’ union president and vice president. Also in attendance was a representative from RAM Restoration, the company conducting the mold remediation.

The report said mold was observed in the Senior High School portion of the building on Aug. 10. Thornton said it is believed this was a result of a combination of environmental conditions including extremely hot and humid temperatures, annual carpet cleaning, and the malfunction of the HVAC system.

Thornton said within the same week of the mold being discovered, RAM Restoration was on site collecting air and surface samples in several locations throughout the building. The initial results indicated the existence of common molds, cladosporium and penicillium/aspergillus types at levels higher than what is considered normal for an indoor environment. She said high levels of these species may cause those individuals who are sensitive to mold to experience adverse health effects.

Thornton said mold remediation began right away and has included the following:

  • An Active Hydrogen Peroxide Plasma system was installed into the duct work. This is an air purification system that works to kill bacteria, viruses and mold;
  • Floor scrubbers were utilized with a pre-filter, a main filter, and two cells which flood the area with Hydrogen Peroxide Plasma for disinfection;
  • Air scrubbers and dehumidifiers have been brought in, are continuously running, and filters are changed daily;
  • All ceiling tiles in the entire building have been removed and replaced;
  • All light fixtures, ventilation covers and HVAC returns have been removed and thoroughly cleaned;
  • All carpets in the building have been cleaned thoroughly three times; and
  • Every surface, including walls, floors, shelving, etc. is in the process of being completely disassembled and cleaned.

Thornton said more air and surface samples were taken on Aug. 22 and 23 in the same locations. These results showed a marked decrease in the mold counts from the previous tests, with most being in the lower ranges. The carpets were shown to have no mold growth at that time.

“At the time of our meeting, crews were still working on wiping down all surfaces in every room and finishing up the third round of carpet cleaning,” Thornton said. “It appears that the situation has been mitigated thoroughly and there has been a significant overall reduction in mold found within the building. The United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) does not have established standards for mold as it pertains to indoor air quality, but the recent sampling events indicate that the levels found indoors are now far below those levels that were found outside the structure. As such, the risk for adverse health reactions due to mold inside the structure should also be reduced.”

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