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'Isolated' mold growth found at Pointers Run Elementary School

Howard County Public School System Superintendent Renee Foose addresses parents Aug. 19 at a community informational meeting about environmental problems at Glenwood Middle School
Howard County Public School System Superintendent Renee Foose addresses parents Aug. 19 at a community informational meeting about environmental problems at Glenwood Middle School (Staff photo by Amanda Yeager)

As Howard County Public School System officials continue to address concerns about mold at Glenwood Middle School, another instance of mold growth has been discovered at an elementary school in Clarksville.

"Several isolated instances of mold growth" were recently found in "several locations" at Pointers Run Elementary School, Principal Lenore Schiff wrote in an email to parents Wednesday afternoon.

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According to Schiff's message, the mold was "immediately cleaned, and environmental experts have confirmed that mold growth in the school is minor, of a type that commonly occurs in homes and offices."

School system officials did not provide more specific information about the type of mold, which was discovered "during the week of Aug. 17, after staff returned to school but before the first student day," according to HCPSS spokeswoman Rebecca Amani-Dove.

Amani-Dove said the mold, which "resembled light or white dust" was found behind a book case, underneath several rocking chairs and beneath a few tables. The mold was identified and reported by school staff in one room on Aug. 19, and environmental specialists found additional instances during subsequent inspections, she said in an email.

Amani-Dove did not specify whether the mold was found on porous surfaces, though she emphasized that "all of the mold is removed and the areas have been thoroughly cleaned." When asked whether samples of the mold had been sent for testing, she wrote that "school staff immediately cleaned the mold found on Aug. 19."

Schiff said the school system has hired Building Dynamics, LLC, an environmental engineering firm, to remediate any existing mold and identify the underlying cause of the growth.

The firm will supervise as "custodians... wipe down all surfaces where mold was observed, using an industry-approved mold cleaning agent" on Wednesday and Thursday nights, she wrote. Building Dynamics will also test the school for mold that is not visible, according to the email.

Schiff said HCPSS and Building Dynamics were targeting Pointer Run's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for improvements, to remedy "higher than usual levels of relative humidity" in the school. Mold growth at Glenwood Middle School has also been attributed to high levels of humidity and a malfunctioning HVAC system. The school system paid $3 million to install a new HVAC system at the middle school last month.

Amani-Dove said the school system is monitoring relative humidity and temperature in four locations within Pointer Run's academic areas, "because high relative humidity levels are the underlying cause of mold formation." She said the school's HVAC system did not need to be replaced as Glenwood's was; rather, HCPSS plans to adjust and upgrade it.

"Building Dynamics is currently preparing recommendations for addressing indoor environmental concerns," she added.

No mold-related medical complaints have been reported by students or staff, according to Amani-Dove.

Schiff promised to keep parents informed as work progresses.

Sept. 10, 1:50 p.m.: This story has been updated to include information from HCPSS spokeswoman Rebecca Amani-Dove. 

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