CREEDMOOR, N.C. (WNCN) – Mold is delaying the first day of classes at two Granville County Public Schools.
Creedmoor Elementary has a tentative start date of Thursday and Butner-Stem Elementary is unlikely to open until after Labor Day. This is the second time in three school years for Creedmoor to close due to mold.
Stan Winborne with GCPS said administrators learned of a mold concern at Creedmoor about a week and a half ago. Inspectors conducted tests which came back positive on August 22. An industrial hygienist cleaning company immediately began work at the school.
Winborne said the Creedmoor cleaning concluded Saturday and inspectors gave an all clear Sunday for teachers to return to the campus. They determined the school’s outdated heating and cooling system was to blame for the mold.
“Ultimately, the HVAC system is the problem. It’s just not equipped to handle the moisture in the building.” Winborne said.
“Cleaning the schools is really not addressing the problem. What has to occur is these HVAC systems must be replaced and upgraded in order for this to not happen again in the future.”
Creedmoor previously had a mold problem which closed classrooms in September 2015. School staff realized over the weekend that Creedmoor and Butner-Stem have very similar structural designs and HVAC systems, so they asked the mold testing company conduct tests Sunday at Butner-Stem. Some of those tests also came back positive for mold in parts of the Butner building.
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Winborne said the mold caused a great deal of frustration for the Board of Education as well as school system administrators.
“It could have been tested earlier if we had known about the problem and the concerns,” he said.
“We did not put the steps in place to make sure this would not come back. We merely addressed the symptoms before. We did not address the root cause and we’re going to have to do that now or else this will continue to be a problem.”
He said GCPS is working to determine when and how it will replace the HVAC units. The current plan for classes is for Creedmoor teachers to return Tuesday to prepare classrooms for students on Thursday. Winborne said the school system hopes cleaning crews can complete their work at Butner-Stem by Friday so students can start school on September 5, the Tuesday after Labor Day.
Winborne said this will be extremely inconvenient for the families of students but it is necessary for student and staff safety.
Jewella Tanner took her grandson Isaiah to a playground on Monday as he was unable to start first grade at Butner-Stem. She is retired and able to care for him this week.
“For those parents that have to get back to work and don’t have any other options, it might be a problem for them, but for us, it was no problem,” Tanner said.
“I wish they had found out earlier but, you know, better safe than sorry.”
Parents will receive phone calls with updates about when classes will resume. Winborne encouraged parents to check school websites as well.
Pop up banners on each of the respective schools’ sites explained the situation and said This is not the way we wanted to open school… and deeply apologize for the inconvenience this is causing our students and family members.