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School system delays school opening pending mold inspections

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More than a dozen schools could be affected

Alamance-Bur-lington school officials announced Tuesday that the start of the upcoming school year will be delayed until September 5 due to the recent discovery of mold in “more than a dozen” schools.

ABSS students had been scheduled to start the new school year on Monday, August 28.
Instead, they will return after the Labor Day holiday, on Tuesday, September 5.

An ABSS policy (Emergency Closings, 5050) authorizes the superintendent to “develop procedures to…temporarily close a school, or all schools, due to inclement weather or “any unforeseen occurrence” that poses a threat to the safety of students or employees, or causes major damage to school property, ABSS public information officer Les Atkins told The Alamance News Wednesday.

The school board has neither convened a special-called meeting nor voted to modify the 2023-24 academic calendar.

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The delay in starting the new school year will “allow environmental inspectors time to further evaluate and address issues at all campuses,” Atkins said in the news release late Tuesday. Mold testing is being performed by Environmental Solutions Group of Apex.

Meanwhile, the school board has scheduled a special-called joint meeting with the county commissioners and Alamance County’s legislative delegation at 3:00 p.m. Monday, August 28.

Alamance County commissioner chairman John Paisley told the newspaper Wednesday that the purpose of Monday’s special-called joint meeting is to discuss the extent of the damage and potential costs for repairs. “Sandy Graves called me yesterday, and we both thought it was a good idea,” he said in explaining the evolution of next Monday’s special-called joint meeting.

School board members held two special-called meetings earlier this month at which they unanimously approved two contracts with Sasser Companies to perform mold remediation at two schools, Andrews and Newlin, where mold contamination has been confirmed. HVAC systems at both schools are also being repaired at Andrews at Newlin, according to ABSS officials.

Potential mold contamination was reported last weekend at Cummings High School, Broadview Middle School, and Williams High School.

ABSS officials said Tuesday afternoon that a visual inspection had revealed possible mold contamination at “upwards of a dozen” ABSS schools.

Atkins, the school system’s public information officer, issued a press release Wednesday afternoon stating that ABSS has been made aware “of possible issues” at the following additional schools: A.O.; Eastlawn; E.M. Holt; Garrett; Highland; North Graham; Grove Park; Pleasant Grove; South Graham; and South Mebane elementary schools; Turrentine, Woodlawn, and Western middle schools; and Eastern, Graham, and Western high schools.

ABSS officials had not confirmed for The Alamance News whether any schools other than the first two identified earlier this month, Andrews and Newlin, had tested positive for mold.

“This is not how we wanted to start the school year.  Fixing these issues is going to take resources we don’t have.  That’s why we need time to assess, meet with our Commissioners and state delegation, and determine the best course of action going forward.” said ABSS superintendent Dr. Dain Butler.

The delay doesn’t affect the Alamance-Burlington Early College housed at Alamance Community College, where classes began last Monday.

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