Mold inspections in every classroom and hallway inside six closed Monroe Township schools were completed Thursday, four days after the South Jersey school district’s 6,000 students were given the week off so the work could be done.
Now comes the wait for laboratory results, which could come back as soon as Friday, according to the latest report issued by a task force that is acting as the liaison between the school district and its Gloucester County community.
TTI Environmental, the Moorestown consultant that was hired to conduct the inspections, is “hoping that surface and air results will be back from the lab by Oct. 13,” the task force reported Thursday. At two of the schools, some rooms have been put “in isolation” for further scrutiny.
So far, the high school gymnasium, drama rehearsal area, and band room have been cleared for student use.
Also, any concerns TTI may have had about mold at the high school and Oak Knoll Elementary “are minimal,” the task force said.
The 12-member task force, which includes representatives of the school district, teachers, and parents, was created following an emergency public meeting called to inform parents and students about the district-wide school shutdown. More than 1,000 residents attended.
School Superintendent Charles Earling has said he decided to close Holly Glen Elementary School last week after TTI confirmed the presence of mold throughout the building, and then shuttered the rest of the schools as a precautionary measure.
School officials found some mold in ceiling tiles at Williamstown Middle School last week, but it is not clear if any mold was detected at any of the other schools before all were closed Monday night.
Earling, who is on the task force, has not responded to numerous calls asking for comment since last Friday. Board President William Caruso and school district solicitor John Armano also have not returned calls.
The task force said it had no news on whether any of the schools would reopen next week, but it previously announced that Holly Glen would be closed for at least three months so that the HVAC system could be replaced and a full clean-up could be performed.
Monroe Twp school district plans to focus on reopening five schools. It will take at least 3 months to reopen Holly Glen Elementary.
— Melanie Burney (@MLBURNEY) October 12, 2017
TTI was called in to inspect Holly Glen last week after teachers complained that their classrooms were saturated with so much moisture that they were emptying dehumidifiers at least twice a day and that mold was visible on desks and lockers.
Though there is a backlog at testing laboratories, because of work related to hurricane damage in Florida and Texas, the task force said TTI is working to expedite getting the results back from EMSL, a certified laboratory.
It said remediation “includes isolating the room, cleaning the affected areas, air scrubbing for 24 hours, then, while under isolation, the area will undergo retesting (which includes a visual inspection and air test). When the area is cleared, it will be released from isolation. TTI is being overly cautious; the owner is going above his standard protocols to quell the concerns of the community.”
Besides classrooms, all offices also are being checked.
Meanwhile, the district is preparing new bus routes for when the displaced Holly Glen students return to class. These K-4 students will be temporarily assigned to Radix Elementary, Oak Knoll, and a wing of the high school.