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No. of ABSS schools with potential mold problem grows; fifth with possible problem: Williams High School

Mold was discovered late Monday afternoon at a fifth school, Williams High School, Alamance-Burlington school officials announced late Monday evening.

Williams is the fifth ABSS school where mold has been reported within the past few weeks, after what appeared to be mold was found in four rooms on the ground floor and in a closet underneath outside stairwells, ABSS officials said Monday night.

Williams High School employees were temporarily moved to Turrentine Middle School on Tuesday so that further testing could be conducted to determine whether mold is present, according to the ABSS public information office.

Meanwhile, Williams is one of multiple ABSS schools that had been repeatedly cited for violations related to water damage during annual inspections by the county’s environmental health division.

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At Williams High School, the county’s environmental health inspectors documented “damaged ceiling tiles in many of the restrooms,” along with water-damaged ceiling tiles in the library and four classrooms on January 26 of this year.  The report issued following that site visit cited violates for “water leaks inside and outside of [a] classroom,” as well as in hallways, the gym ceiling, a stairwell, and another room on the second floor of Williams.

State law requires each county’s environmental health division to inspect all public and private school buildings at least once a year to evaluate cleanliness of floors, walls, and ceilings, as well as the adequacy of lighting and ventilation, among other sanitation-related aspects. These inspections are separate from the sanitation inspections and grades issued for foodservice operations, including school cafeterias.

Written reports from the annual building inspections of public school buildings are required to be filed with the State Board of Education, while reports from the inspections of private schools are required to be filed with the state Department of Administration, which oversees the Division of Non-Public Education, under the same state law.

Environmental health specialists issued violations for the same problems related to water damage and apparent leaks at Williams High School on June 14, 2021; June 15, 2020; April 3, 2019; and May 24, 2018, according to annual reports on file with the county.  (No inspection appeared to have been conducted in 2022, based on the annual reports.)

“Found water damaged ceiling tiles on the gym balcony, a damaged ceiling in classroom…and a hole in the wall in the learning lab room of the first floor,” the report from the inspection on June 14, 2021 stated.  “Please have all areas repaired, and check all rooms [for] water damaged ceiling tiles.”

The same problems had been documented during inspections conducted at Williams during each of the three previous years.

The report from the inspection in May 2018 stated, “Ensure water leaks are quickly addressed and water damage is repaired.  Observed peeling paint in [third floor hallway]; deteriorating ceiling in staff restroom on [third] floor; peeling paint/plaster/damaged walls throughout stairwell.  Rusting and peeling paint around windows in stairwell.  Water damage and peeling paint in ceilings in stairwell.  Observed several holes in ceiling including in front of elevator.  Repair/ replace ceiling tiles where necessary.”

While mold is naturally present in the environment, factors such as moisture, humidity, and lack of sunlight can contribute to the growth of mold spores that can be harmful to some individuals, particularly those with compromised immune systems or other underlying health conditions, according to the Institute for the Environment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

ABSS superintendent Dr. Dain Butler has said that the school board will discuss the mold problems at its next meeting on Monday night.

Two more schools – Cummings High School and Broadview Middle School next door – are latest two schools where mold might be a problem (Mon., Aug. 21, 2023): https://alamancenews.com/possible-mold-contamination-discovered-at-two-more-abss-schools/

Mold remediation finishes at Andrews Elementary School, contract approved for Newlin Elementary School: https://alamancenews.com/update-mold-removal-work-at-andrews-elementary-now-complete-school-board-votes-for-contract-to-remove-mold-at-newlin-elementary/

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