Granville County parents demand answers concerning mold in schools

CREEDMOOR, N.C. (WNCN) – Wednesday school officials explained to more than a hundred students, and parents why their students could not attend school this week.

School officials would not let television cameras in during the meeting, saying they didn’t want parents to feel uncomfortable. But school officials did allow a reporter inside.

During the meeting officials told parents that teachers prepping their classrooms discovered the mold in mid-August.

Inspectors found mold at Creedmoor Elementary School earlier this month and at Butner-Stem Elementary School during a follow-up inspection. Creedmoor educators expect to teach starting Thursday. Butner-Stem will not start school until after Labor Day as cleaning crew continue to work inside the building.

CBS North Carolina also learned students and faculty were in the two buildings effected by mold all summer for camp.

“We did get a couple reports of lack of air-condition, but no indication there was widespread problem by those teachers or the administrators that were there,” said schools spokesperson Stan Winborne.

School officials say they’re considering new HVAC systems, which would come with a half-million-dollar per school price tag.

But two of the buildings at Creedmoor Elementary already have new HVAC systems.

Granville county spokesperson Windborne says the newer systems were either off or not functioning.

So far it’s cost the school district about $800,000 to remove the mold from the two schools.

RELATED: Discovery of mold delays start of year for 2 Granville County schools

The Granville County Board of Education held an emergency meeting Tuesday evening to consider school changes going forward. The four options discussed were having all students return to their regularly assigned classrooms, having some students go to other schools while parts of the buildings are repaired, having all students go to other schools during repairs, or potentially permanently closing the campuses.

The board chose the first option, and plans to conduct weekly tests of air quality and surfaces prone to mold growth. That testing will cost about $700 a week at each school, for a total of about $11,000 for eight weeks.

Inspectors determined the schools’ outdated Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems are not properly handling humidity which results in mold growth. The board discussed renting 36 industrial humidifiers for two months in order to get to the fall and an expected decrease in humidity. That carries an estimated $75,000 cost.

Schools spokesperson Stan Winborne said the long-term solution is replacing the HVAC systems at the two campuses, which could cost about $1 million.

“We are still trying to determine when and how we’re going to get these HVAC units replaced,” Winborne said.

“The HVAC systems that are in place both in Creedmoor and in (Butner-Stem) Elementary School in certain buildings, is not equipped to remove the humidity levels to the level that it needs to be to prevent mold from coming back.”

Winborne said Granville County Schools will conduct a district-wide review of all of the school buildings to look for and test any areas of concern, in order to address them immediately.

Parents said they understand the safety issue but wish it were found and fixed sooner. Winborne said it could have been tested earlier in the summer had the school system known then about the problem.

Wendy Quintas took her school-age sons to a park in Creedmoor on Wednesday since they weren’t able to be at school.

“Just had to get them out of the house. They’re kind of at that (stage of) stored up energy and they’re just ready to be back in school. And mom’s ready to have them back in school,” Quintas said.

“We didn’t want the summer to end, but the time is here now. So we’re ready. Everybody’s ready to get back on that normal school routine.”

Second grader Logan and first grader Greyson said they are eager to see their friends from last year, but don’t mind missing a few days.

“We get to play more here than we do at recess there,” Logan said.

“I like staying at home and watching TV,” Greyson said.

Their mom said she is pleased school administrators took time to clean the campus before classes begin.

“That’s a little concerning. Especially with children,” Quintas said. “So I’m definitely glad that they’re taking steps to take care of the problem.”

Creedmoor Elementary School has not announced if students will have to make up the missed days.

Butner-Stem Elementary School plans to add 10 minutes to each school day as well as have school on Saturday, Sept. 9.

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