School district officials share updates on mold situation at PQ Elementary

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A day after PQ families learned of a mold issue significant enough to shut down one wing of the school, school district officials shared new information on the situation.

Superintendent Ken Freeston wrote in an email to The North Salem Post that a failed hot water heater was the cause of the initial sink flooding in the first grade wing. He explained that though the water had been removed and the affected room dried, the water likely had penetrated under the vinyl cove moulding. Cove mouldings are typically used to smooth the transition between  walls and ceilings or ceilings and floors.

Jim Savarese, president of the North Salem Teachers Association, said, “at this point we've been told that the flood from the sink was the cause of the mold. We'll rely on the custodial staff--and Quest--to ensure that the rest of the building is mold free.”

By Monday afternoon, PQ principal Mary Johnson had sent an email to affected families saying that students could return to school on Tuesday, two days sooner than initially projected. Five classrooms, including student desks and personal belongings, had been relocated to other parts of the school building. The news came as a relief to frustrated families who on Sunday had been given less than 24 hours notice to arrange for childcare and an abrupt return to remote learning for their young children.

“The staff and custodians have been rockstars in getting this all done today,” said Freeston.

As for the teachers’ response to the issue, Savarese said, “the teachers are being as understanding as possible in facing yet another challenge, during an extremely taxing year for everyone. We will continue to meet with the Administration to help to prioritize infrastructure needs going forward.”

Repair work is expected to start as soon as Wednesday evening, according to Freeston. “The work starts with creating negative air pressure in that wing and consists of removing the vinyl cove moulding and one foot of sheetrock above the floor in the affected rooms, run the negative air pressure with sheetrock removed, replace with new sheetrock, tape and paint. Replace moulding. In one room the floor tiles (non asbestos) need to be removed and replaced,” Freeston said.

The cost for repairs is expected to be fully funded through insurance.

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