Richmond Schools shares plan to mitigate mold after teachers voice concerns about 'furry stuff' in classrooms

Posted at 5:10 PM, Sep 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-18 17:10:09-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Public Schools shared the results of recent mold assessments afterstaff members and parents voiced concerns about fungal growth in classrooms and school buildings.

Teachers at Boushall Middle School shared photos of what appeared to be mold growing on lockers, desks, and chairs.

Meanwhile, staff members at Fox Elementary, currently being housed at Clark Springs, said mold is spreading across ceiling tiles, causing them to get sick.

“I know from speaking with multiple staff members that we're all suffering from upper respiratory infections, sore throat, stuffy noses, brain fog, and itchy watery eyes," said one Fox teacher at a Richmond School Board meeting last Monday.

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Newly obtained emails revealed staff at Boushall raised concerns about the mold to Superintendent Jason Kamras and facilities staff at the beginning of the school year.

One teacher wrote on August 21, the first day of school, "I had to stand all day because of the visible furry stuff growing on chairs and still some on desks."

Another teacher wrote on August 29, "As someone with adult asthma, the conditions of the classroom are concerning to me."

Last week, a parent of a Fox student at Clark Springs wrote the school board that their student "described a substance dripping on him from the ceiling tiles, as well as feeling better when he started wearing a mask in class."

Now, the district has presented an action plan.

According to a school board presentation by RPS Chief Operating Officer Dana Fox, two mold tests have been conducted at parts of Boushall since August.

The first test showed "heavy" levels of fungal growth, so the facilities team completed the necessary cleaning.

A follow-up test conducted on September 1 showed no more fungal growth or visible mold in the impacted areas.

A third test of the full building has been requested and should be completed within two weeks.

The test will cost about $8,000.

At Clark Springs, which dealt with leaking roofs, RPS spent about $20,000 on mold remediation efforts before the building became the temporary home for Fox Elementary following a February 2022 fire.

A mold report from April 2022 found after those efforts, there were no elevated readings of mold.

However, in light of new concerns, an updated assessment is scheduled for this Wednesday, which will cost about $4,000. The next steps will be recommended depending on the results.

Teachers said they'd like to see long-term solutions.

“What message does it send to parents and staff members when the solutions we’re seeing are essentially a set of band-aids? Swapping out a ceiling tile doesn’t solve the underlying issue," a Fox teacher said last week.

The school board is expected to discuss the topic during its meeting Monday evening.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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