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Parents are concerned about mold issues at St. James Elementary School

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Many parents with students at St. James Elementary said on Friday they were concerned about the possibility of mold in the school.

District officials and a local doctor said parents shouldn’t be too concerned.

St. James Principal Ms. McDavid sent a letter to parents, admitting there was a problem and there’s a plan in place to fix it.

"We want it taken care of and we want communication from the district," said June Johnson, whose two grandchildren attend St. James Elementary.

Moldy pictures showed exactly what Johnson was talking about. Images showed mold on books, the walls and light fixtures.

"I could walk through the school and show you, in the kindergarten area, in the second grade hall, in the first grade hall, in the fourth and third grade hall. The library, yes, I took pictures of a couple books with mold on them and it's throughout-- I've seen it on rugs," said Johnson.

In the letter, McDavid mentioned the district hired a third party air quality testing company to survey the building, but Johnson said she knew nothing about it until Friday.

"The district, you know, sends their maintenance people-- which are not experienced in handling this type of problem-- and they wipe it off and paint over it; that’s not satisfactory; that’s not mold remediation," said Johnson.

If mold is, in fact, in the school. Johnson said she and other parents are concerned about possible health problems.

Dr. Dennis Rhoades at Doctor's Care said it all just depends on the type of mold.

"Just because it's black mold, doesn’t necessarily means that it's bad mold," said Dr. Rhoades.

"Everyone worries about toxins that are produced by mold, not every mold produces toxins," he said.

Just because students show signs of mold exposure doesn't mean they've necessarily been exposed.

"Is it causing more upper respiratory problems in your children? This time of year it's hard to say because we’re right in the middle of flu season and the cold season, so children are going to have increased upper respiratory problems," said Dr. Rhoades.

Either way, parents say they just want the issue addressed and cleared up.

"I don’t think it's fair to have our children and the staff, you know, have to work or go to school in a building that is potentially hazardous," said Johnson.

Below is the email sent to parents Friday afternoon from Principal Ms. McDavid:

Dear St. James Elementary Family,
I have received several calls and emails from concerned parents regarding mold and air quality issues within our school. I want you to know that the health and safety of my students, staff, and visitors are my top priority. Recently concerns were brought to my attention regarding the air quality in two of our classrooms. We hired a 3rd party air quality testing company to take samples and to make sure those classrooms are safe and they are. Again, the classrooms were deemed safe by professionals and the company recommended HVAC maintenance (to include cleaning of HVAC components to include vents, coils, etc.), cleaning of all surfaces, and to run the mechanical air filter machines afterward in the classrooms. The mechanical air filter machines were rented from Full Steam Ahead (FSA) as many of you saw them being delivered on Monday. FSA did not provide any water, fire or mold remediation services for our facility.
I have had additional concerns shared with me regarding other areas within the school. I am currently working very closely with facilities, health services and our District office to address these concerns in a swift manner, which may require additional testing in various locations. Our facilities and health services have overseen these types of issues in the past and are knowledgeable about the procedures and will carry out any and all recommendations set forth by the 3rd party company not just in our school but for all of our facilities across our school district. I can assure you if mold is confirmed in our facility, it will be removed and properly cleaned per industry standards. Again, I and the District, would not put any of our students, staff, and visitors in harm’s way. Thank you again for those who have reached out to me and for your trust that these matters are being looked into and will be handled in an expedient and professional manner. I will continue to keep you posted as I receive additional information.
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