OCHS taking steps to avoid mold repeat

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A ServPro truck is parked in front of Ocean City High School on Saturday, Sept. 8. ServPro was hired to remediate mold found in various areas of the school last week. A ServPro truck is parked in front of Ocean City High School on Saturday, Sept. 8. ServPro was hired to remediate mold found in various areas of the school last week.

OCEAN CITY — With its first major mold remediation process completed, Ocean City High School reopened Monday, Sept. 10 with an eye toward preventing a repeat.

“We are taking other measures to see what we can do,” school Superintendent Kathleen Taylor said that afternoon, noting a meeting with the district's HVAC installation company would be held Tuesday, too late for publication.

At that meeting, the firm will be asked to confirm the air conditioning system is working properly and will be asked about the possibility of installing an alarm that will be triggered when the humidity in the building reaches a certain point.

Coastal Environmental Compliance of Hammonton, the district's environmental consultant, will be responsible for determining that trigger point, Taylor said.

Common surface mold grew undetected over the long, humid Labor Day weekend, when no one was using the building, Taylor said, adding administrators took immediate action Tuesday, Sept. 4 upon the discovery of mold in the auditorium and a conference room. Mold was discovered in six classrooms, the art room and the music room on Wednesday, Sept. 5, forcing the closure of those areas to students when school opened the next day.

Then, the discovery of mold on the underside of cafeteria tables Thursday forced the district to cancel the second day of the 2012-2013 school year.

“Areas that don't have a lot of air circulation, like in a drawer, under a table or in a closet, were affected,” Taylor said, putting the closed, dark auditorium in that category.

The high school, which opened in 2004, had one previous experience with mold remediation: The closure of the auditorium in fall 2009 when water seeped through the floor. The auditorium, one of the first areas identified as affected with common surface mold last week, could reopen as soon as Tuesday, Sept. 11, Taylor said.

Coastal Environmental said the prolonged high humidity last week was to blame for the growth of the mold, which requires moisture and oxygen to thrive. Taylor said there has been much “misunderstanding about how long the mold has been here,” and said the consultant classified it as “new” and pinpointed the time frame as “a week at most.”

Taylor praised Coastal Environmental and ServPro, the mold remediation firm, with working around the clock over the weekend to clean the school and permit it to open Monday for the first full day of classes for the new school year.

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