BY Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | MonroeNow | Sep 6, 2018
MONROE — It’s been a tough start to the new school year for Monroe. After the district decided to hold half days on Sept. 5 and Sept. 6 because of the excessive heat, it is now dealing with mold that was found in the Monroe Township Middle School Richard Marasco Auditorium on Sept. 5.
The school is open, but students will not have any access to the auditorium until the remediation process is successfully completed.
The possibility of mold was first reported by staff members to the school administration. Richard Lynch’s, of Environmental Safety and Management Corporation, initial test confirmed that mold was present in the seating fabric and other items in the auditorium.
The mold likely developed because of “the fluctuating power, excessive heat and humidity yesterday [Sept. 4],” wrote acting Superintendent Robert Goodall on Sept. 5.
To reassure safety, Goodall wrote that “at no time were any students in the auditorium,” on Sept. 5. For the interim, the band and chorus will not use the auditorium until the remediation is successfully completed. It will also be off limits to staff and all other students. Though, the auditorium is a separate addition with its own HVAC system, additional spreading at this time is unknown.
In an email Sept. 6 prior to publication, Goodall said he would provide more information about the matter, such as potential to spread beyond the addition or if tests would be conducted at other district schools, when he knows the answers.
Mold spores can spread through the air and HVAC systems, as well as other means.
At this time, there is no estimate to how long the remediation process will take.
Because of the excessive heat, the entire district remains on a half-day schedule on Sept. 6. Feels like temperatures today will reach 100 degrees. However, the temperature is expected to be much cooler on Friday, when the district will resume its regular schedule.
Monroe is just the latest district to deal with mold just as the new school year was set to begin. In Dover, high school students there were supposed to start classes on Sept. 4, but mold was found in at least 15 classrooms on chairs, desks and other spots, according to reports. Classes at the high school on Thursday were also cancelled.
Mold was also discovered in an art classroom at Dumont High School, according to reports. And in Central Jersey, three elementary schools in Brick, Stafford and Lakehurst had to be fully cleaned after mold was discovered late in August.
Some forms of mold can release toxins that can impact the central nervous, respiratory, digestive and immune system, according to the state Department of Health. It can also cause allergic reactions.