While other students in the region were posing for photos at their elementaries this morning, Brandywine Heights Elementary School posted a sign on the front door, “School Closed.”
The Elementary School was closed on the first day of school Monday, and remains closed Tuesday, due to an air quality test showing elevated mold spores in the carpets.
“The safety of the children and the safety of the air and environment is the most important to me. I realize it causes an inconvenience for parents and it may be a little disappointing for the children wanting to start school today,” said Andrew Potteiger, Superintendent for Brandywine Heights School District, “in the end I had to be worried about safety of the students.”
Wanting to prevent rumors, Potteiger informed parents via the district’s automated communication system about the air quality test results and the closure of the Elementary School for the first day of school.
“I’m big in open communication,” he said. “Honest, open communication. I filled them in on exactly what was going on and let them know that school was going to be cancelled.”
Potteiger explained that the district conducted the normal cleaning this summer, taking everything out and cleaning everything, including the carpets. Afterwards they noticed mold on the carpets. The maintenance crew used hospital grade cleaners to clean the carpets and addressed the mold issues, he said.
“To be safe, we conducted an air test.”
The initial air quality control test, conducted by Spotts, Stevens, McCoy, indicated elevated mold counts in some locations on the first floor of the Elementary School. Service Master cleaned all classrooms on the first floor of the elementary school, according to Potteiger.
“We recleaned all carpets, horizontal and vertical spaces on all the first floor classrooms. They also ran dehumidifiers and air purifiers,” said Potteiger.
On Friday, Aug. 23, the district received the results of a secondary air quality control test through Spotts, Stevens, McCoy.
“The air tests passed but there remained concern with elevated mold spores in the carpets.”
The announcement to close school was made Friday.
Service Master recleaned all carpeted floors in the Elementary School over this past weekend with a product recommended by their test laboratory after reviewing the test results. They also ran dehumidifiers and air purifiers, according to Potteiger.
“We treated every single carpet in the building,” he said.
In a post on the school website to parents, Potteiger wrote, “We will ensure that the Elementary School is safe through the aggressive cleaning and a reevaluation of the air quality prior to opening school on Wednesday.”
Another test was conducted on Monday and they hope to see the results Tuesday. Potteiger said the district hopes to open the Elementary School on Wednesday as long as the carpets pass the test.
“I’m not taking it lightly,” he said. “The safety of the kids is the most important. Make sure we have good air test results.”
Wednesday will be the normal first day of school, if all goes well with the test.
“We’re looking to start the first day of school on Wednesday and have a successful school year.”
Potteiger is taking steps to submit a waiver to the state regarding 180 days of school requirement. He explained that if not approved, Brandywine Elementary will have to make those days up, but if approved the elementary school does not have to make the days up.