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South Charleston Middle School takes action on mold problem

There's still no official word on the presence of mold at South Charleston Middle School, but officials are moving to work against mold in the meantime.

Principal Henry Graves was satisfied with the way precautions were progressing by Thursday afternoon: an environmental crew visited the school Monday to test for mold, and an official from the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department visited Wednesday morning to check for the presence of mold.

"I think everyone is being pretty transparent at this point," Graves said.

The environmental report won't be completed until next week, but the experts said it was likely there were "elevated levels" of mold in the girls' bathroom on the second floor. School officials went ahead and closed the bathroom so an outside crew could do a thorough clean.

The health department responded after a concerned parent filed a complaint with their office.

Anita Ray, director of the health department's environmental health division, said this was the first complaint the agency had fielded about the condition of South Charleston Middle School.

The health department is responsible for the sanitation at the county's public schools and inspects them regularly, or when a complaint is filed.

Ray said the health department official did not conduct an elaborate test, but that she was satisfied with the school's attempts to clean the girls' bathroom

It stands to reason that there would be mold in the school, Ray said, because it has a leaky roof (the school system's project to replace that roof is currently out for bid).

"Mold is a natural thing. It occurs all the time, everywhere," she said. "Especially this time of year it can become a problem because it gets damp outside and you don't have as much sunlight or air flow as you might have."

She didn't see or smell anything that indicated the school has a serious ongoing issue, though the environmental report will have the final word on that.

That report is expected to be complete by sometime next week.

South Charleston parents were at the county school board's regular meeting last week, outraged by the condition of the school building and demanding action from the school system.

Parents said they suspected that mold in the school could be making some of the students sick, and were frustrated the school board hadn't taken action to remedy the situation sooner.

Board President Pete Thaw promised action would be taken in the coming weeks. Board members will address the issue again at the regular meeting in October.

Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.maunz@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.


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