Black mold shuts down school

April 15, 2008 2:03:42 PM PDT
Administrators spotted black mold in one section of George Wolf Elementary in Bath, Northampton County. And where there's mold... there can't be students. So now comes the issue of where to school them during the cleanup.

Tammy Bond says her 2 girls, Kelly and Crystal, are always getting sick. Crystal has asthma. This week, Bond learned that black mold was found at their school, George Wolf Elementary, in the Northampton Area School District.

Bond said when she learned of the mold, "I panicked. They could have been bringing it home all the time."

Bond doesn't know if mold is to blame, but Dr. Linda Firestone, the superintendent of Northampton area schools, says she's heard complaints before.

Dr. Firestone told Action News, "We've had complaints from staff in the building. Teacher who've said they had burning eyes, scratchy throats."

Dr. Firestone has canceled classes for the rest of the week, and 2 to 3-hundred students will be moved somewhere else for the rest of this school year, and next school year.

The mold was found in an older part of the school being renovated.

Health experts say black mold can cause health problems, such as itchy eyes. mild breathing problems, and even a rash.

Firestone says air quality tests show the building is safe, but she's not taking any chances. She says, "I think it's totally unfair, to keep people in the building when there's mold there."

Bond was heartened by that action, "As long as it's going to get them away from this mess."

But while some parents applaud the action, others say it comes late.

Donna Fleming says the school has been in poor shape for years.

She wishes someone had done something sooner to kids wouldn't be shuffled around, disrupting their education. "Emotionally and mentally, this is going to affect them."

The district is eyeing area churches and schools with extra space in other districts to temporarily send children to, though no decisions have been made, Firestone said. About 700 pupils from kindergarten through sixth grade attend school at George Wolf.

The district has scheduled a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the high school cafeteria to discuss the situation and give parents an opportunity to ask questions.