Education

Mold closes building for local students — but school is still in session

Howard Elementary School, at 255 School St., was closed after mold was discovered in the basement Wednesday afternoon.  Students are attending class down the road at Wingate Elementary until air quality testing and mitigation efforts are complete.
Howard Elementary School, at 255 School St., was closed after mold was discovered in the basement Wednesday afternoon. Students are attending class down the road at Wingate Elementary until air quality testing and mitigation efforts are complete. Centre Daily Times, file

Update: Bald Eagle Area Superintendent Jeff Miles said they received preliminary air quality tests (prior to cleanup and mitigation of the problem area in the basement) for Howard Elementary at 1:08 p.m. Friday, indicating that the air is safe in the classroom and office areas. Students will return to school at Howard on Monday. Post-air quality tests will be taken Monday afternoon.

Mold is shuffling plans for some local students this week as air quality tests and cleanup are underway.

Parents of Howard Elementary students received a phone call Wednesday, alerting them that mold had been discovered that afternoon in the building’s basement, and that their students would be attending Wingate Elementary until Howard’s building was deemed safe.

According to a note on the school’s website by Principal Nevin “Skip” Pighetti, students who regularly ride the bus to school would be picked up as usual and dropped off at Wingate Elementary. Students who walk to school or get dropped off by their parents could report to Howard as usual, and then get picked up by a shuttle and transported 10 miles down North Eagle Valley Road to Wingate, where they would meet up with their classmates.

At the end of the day, students would be bussed back to Howard to be picked up at their normal times.

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According to Bald Eagle Area Superintendent Jeff Miles, all the transportation to Wingate went smoothly Thursday morning, and he expected the same come pickup time.

“Everybody’s been wonderful about the whole situation, the district, the Howard staff, the families and community down at Howard — and the hospitality, Wingate’s been incredible,” he said. “So we’ve been very fortunate. That’s exactly what we would expect from the Bald Eagle community.”

Miles said that preliminary air quality tests were done at 10:30 a.m. in three spots at Howard Elementary — outside, at a common area inside, and in the basement where the mold was discovered. Preliminary results should be in by Friday morning, he said, as well as mitigation efforts. Post-air quality tests are set for Monday.

“I’d like to be able to say we’ll be back in Howard this week but I don’t know that yet,” Miles said. “We might do all of this and get post-results, and it’s still not OK. I don’t know what to expect, and that’s the problem, no one does.”

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Parents of students all received another call Thursday afternoon to update them on the situation, as well as a letter that was sent home with the kids. Updates can also be found on Bald Eagle Area’s website at www.beasd.org.

Because of record rainfall this summer and now high heat and humidity, mold has caused problems in schools across Pennsylvania, including in the State College Area, where mold was found in three buildings just prior to the start of the school year.

Miles said that air quality testing is being done in all Bald Eagle Area schools now as a precaution.

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