Mold growth delays Wilcox County Elementary School year - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Mold growth delays Wilcox County Elementary School year

Gary Howell, Principal Gary Howell, Principal
Entrance of Wilcox County Elementary School Entrance of Wilcox County Elementary School
One of the school rooms where mold was detected One of the school rooms where mold was detected
The cabinet where mold was originally seen in one of the Kindergarten Rooms, which has since been torn apart, cleaned and rebuilt. The cabinet where mold was originally seen in one of the Kindergarten Rooms, which has since been torn apart, cleaned and rebuilt.

De-humidifiers are running inside a south Georgia elementary school that's closed because of mold as an inspector works on a treatment plan.  School started in Wilcox County Thursday, but not at the elementary school.

Late Wednesday, just after the elementary school's open house ended, administrators got the results of tests that showed slightly elevated levels of un-natural mold.  That was enough to raise health concerns and delay the first day of school.

The seats usually brimming with life remain dormant for now after mold was discovered in a cabinet inside one of the pre-kindergarten class rooms earlier this summer.

"We came back after the 4th of July holidays and my head custodian called me before I got to work and I came in and we looked at some of the rooms.  And it looked like we...we had an issue with mold," said Gary Howell, Wilcox Elementary School Principal.

Howell said the cabinet was thoroughly cleaned along with the rooms.  But when the mold came back three times, administrators called in specialist.

"He (Bobby Bridges, Environmental Specialist) told me, he said, you know, mold is one of those things we're just learning a lot about.  And just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there," said Howell.

Bridges said this building was one of the best maintained buildings he's seen in his entire career.  So it was a big shock to everyone when they discovered slightly elevated levels of un-natural mold. 

"I was floored.   I said, 'really?' and he...he had the same reaction," Howell said. 

Condensation built up in the school's air conditioning ducts has been determined as the most likely cause.

"We don't want any problems.  Kids getting sick, nor staff getting  sick.  It was decided that we would have Bridges Environmental come in and treat all the air conditioner units for us and then also he'll treat the class rooms as well," said Howell.

De-Humidifiers were placed in every room of the Kindergarten wing to reduce the humidity.  But Howell said he's ready to begin the year. 

"Let's get this thing fixed and get them in here.  I'm really, to tell you the truth, I'm sad they're not coming today.  I'm bored to death.  I'm ready for them to come back, I miss them (laughs)," he said.

He said many faculty and staff have expressed their gratitude for the school system's health concerns.  And as soon as it's safe, the classrooms will again be filled with students eager to learn.

Crews will clean the A-C system, halls, and classrooms next week.

The inspector recommends you get your cooling units inspected once a year to prevent mold from growing in your home.

Classes are now set to begin August 13th for elementary students.  Their school year will likely be extended a week, and they may lose a couple of days of class time.  

Copyright 2013 WALB.  All rights reserved.   

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