Elkhardt MS to close over mold concerns

Elkhardt MS to close over mold concerns

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond Public Schools announced Wednesday that Elkhardt Middle School will close due to concerns over a mold infestation affecting multiple classrooms.

Officials said a high number of mold spores were found in the south Richmond school building, affecting four classrooms.

Students will remain in Elkhardt though Thursday Feb. 12. The nearly 500 students will relocate to unoccupied Clark Springs Elementary School beginning Feb. 18.

In an interview Wednesday, Superintendent Dr. Dana T. Bedden said he would allow his young daughter attend classes at Elkhardt.

"The air quality test results show the air could potentially become dangerous, but it has not reached that point yet," Bedden said. "This is acting out of an abundance of caution."

The school system said it is evaluating whether a leaking steam pipe can be repaired, or if the school should remain closed. They are trying to figure out where there is enough space for all of the affected students and staff, and also need to decide how to get students and staff back and forth between the two facilities.

Richmond Public Schools officials met with school staff to begin working out the details, and released a statement late Wednesday evening.

"During the course of investigating a heating concern at Elkhardt Middle School, Richmond Public Schools officials were recently made aware of an indoor air quality issue within the school building. District officials immediately directed an analysis by a third-party environmental specialist. Additional testing was subsequently requested to further investigate the issue.

As a result of the information revealed during this expedited evaluation process, the district has determined that the relocation of Elkhardt Middle School students and staff to Clark Springs Elementary School presents the best course of action to ensure an optimal and safe instructional environment. Students and staff will remain at Clark Springs Elementary School for the duration of the 2014-2015 school year.

The administration has developed an aggressive plan of action and will be communicating additional details to students, staff and parents this week. The district will continue to conduct daily indoor air quality monitoring to ensure the safety and health of all building occupants during this transition period."

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