PENNSBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The school year is not off to a great start at Upper Perkiomen High School in Montgomery County as mold problems are forcing the school to close for the entire week. Some students even became ill, CBS3 was told.
The problem at the high school was two-fold. At first, mold sprouted over summer break inside. The air was scrubbed, filters were changed, dehumidifiers were powered up and it was believed the problem was wiped out. But then round two — the students were back to class, and so was that pesky mold.
This time the mold was contained in part of the gym.
“They said it started in the gym,” senior Devon Harnish said. “Nobody saw it because they closed the doors, but everyone was, like, inhaling it.”
Experts say those sensitive to mold can experience respiratory irritation and other symptoms.
Superintendent Dr. Alexis McGloin says the weather won out over some of the district’s older air handlers.
“We felt the best course of action was to make sure that our HVAC was more efficient so that it could keep up with all the moisture going on, the humidity has been crazy,” McGloin said in an interview on Monday.
Some parents believe having a week off from school was the correct call.
“She came home and said the kids were getting sick and I had no idea mold was in the school,” June Harnish said. “You don’t want anybody getting sick, especially if you can’t see it.”
The district hired contractors to get to the bottom of the mystery. The prime suspect at this point is an old part of the high school’s HVAC system.
“I hope they keep tabs on it, even my family has been texting, ‘How do you know everything is going to be OK?’” Harnish said. “I’m just hoping these companies will go and test and make sure kids are safe.”
The district expects its insurance carrier will refund some of the mold remediation expense.
Nov. 6, 19 and 20 and Jan. 21 will serve as makeup days. A fifth makeup day is not needed, because the school calendar already had an extra day built in.