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Mold in Howard Co. classrooms concerns grow

Posted: 9:24 PM, Oct 01, 2015
Updated: 2015-10-02 01:24:22Z

A September e-mail sent from the Principal of Pointers Run Elementary to the community said that, "...several isolated instances of mold growth were recently identified in several locations in our school."

The school system says the e-mail went out right away, sending the In Focus team this statement:

"The email sent this month to Pointers Run families came as soon as the mold instances were discovered. We wanted to make parents aware as well as inform them of the process underway to remediate the mold and make sure that Pointers Run Elementary School was a safe environment conducive to teaching and learning.

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We look forward to the work to be performed by the Indoor Environmental Quality Advisory Committee that is being established."

In an e-mail from July 2013, the school system's Environmental Safety Specialist noted that there was some growth on wood portions of student desks and, in another room, mold was found on pillows and a book bag. The e-mail went on to say, "Think this was due to extreme weather we had prior to this nice break. Probably too much for HVAC."

They recommended that the school custodial staff can "address and clean since minor." They also recommended that each room's teacher chair is spot cleaned as needed, all off-white metal student desks should be cleaned, pillows and vacuum straps with mold growth be thrown out and to clean items with "Q128."

In another document from November of 2013, the Specialist mentioned that  a Pointers Run teacher had been experiencing sinus headaches and asked to purchase a portable air cleaner for her classroom. According to the document, the teacher mentioned that there was mold growth on some materials. It mentioned that school custodians cleaned and disinfected some plastic items and wood surfaces during the summer. 

The In Focus team tracked down the teacher mentioned in the document, who was open to sharing her concerns. She was pregnant at the time that she was getting the headaches, and says there was a musty smell in her classroom, and her carpet was rippling. She tells the In Focus team that the school system denied her request to purchase an air cleaner. 

The report says that they did not find mold during their investigation and it says, "As mentioned to Ms. Martin, air cleaners, in my professional opinion, may provide a psychological benefit, but not a physical." It went on to say that the only way to prevent breathing in an allergen is to remove the source or wear a respirator.

When we asked if the community was notified back in 2013, the school system sent us this statement:

"In general, it is not our practice to communicate general building maintenance, repairs and renovations that occur over the summer when students and teachers are not in the building."

The school system has acknowledged that Pointers Run Elementary, Glenwood Middle, and Glenelg High School have all experienced mold.