DuBOIS — The DuBois Area High School was closed Thursday “until further notice” due to indoor air quality concerns in 14 classrooms, the swimming pool area and the cafeteria, according to Superintendent Luke Lansberry. It remained closed Friday due to mold identified within several classrooms.
“Once again, our area experienced significant rainfall for the past couple of days which resulted in elevated humidity conditions in the high school,” Lansberry said. “During inspections last evening (Wednesday) of the first floor classrooms by our environmental consultant, over a dozen classrooms, cafeteria, and indoor pool had elevated humidity and air quality concerns.”
“As a result, the high school will be closed until professional cleaning and dehumidification can occur,” said Lansberry. “The environmental consultant will complete the inspections of the second floor classrooms and collect air samples today (Thursday). Once the professional cleaning and dehumidification is completed, confirmatory air sampling will occur to ensure the cleaning was effective to address the air quality concerns. We are taking every precaution necessary to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.”
Based on visual inspections and the field instrumentation readings, no environmental quality impacts or concerns were identified in the entranceways, hallways or gymnasium of the facility, Lansberry said.
A volleyball game was still scheduled to be played Thursday in the gymnasium.
Lansberry said the affected classrooms have been temporarily sealed off.
“The affected classrooms will be temporarily sealed off, and HEPA air scrubbers have been installed in the classrooms to filter the air and provide negative air containment so there is no leaking out of the classrooms,” said Lansberry. “As a result, there will be no adverse effects to air quality in the gymnasium or other areas.”
The professional cleaners are on site and working diligently to resolve the air quality concerns, Lansberry said.
Lansberry said that administration and the main office staff were still able to work in their offices Thursday. The teaching staff is off with the students.
Sampling of surfaces and air within the affected classrooms were conducted Monday. Based on discussions with the district’s consultant, the laboratory results from that sampling indicate that elevated concentrations of mold spores still remain in these affected classrooms.
The presence of mold is primarily caused by the humidity that has been affecting our area for the past few weeks, Lansberry said.
“The unprecedented rainfall is further affecting humidity levels. The professional cleaning company is working diligently to clean the affected classrooms, however, the cleaning will take several days. Once cleaning is completed, visual inspections and confirmatory air sampling will be conducted.”
How long the school will be closed remains to be seen.
“It depends on how long it takes them to clean and how thoroughly. I am hopeful it won’t be very long. I know other districts that have been dealing with it missed five days. We certainly aren’t going to let the students in these areas until they have been inspected and approved,” Lansberry said.
Lansberry said the district will be contacting the Pennsylvania Department of Education to see what the options are for making up any missed days of school for the 1,011 high school students.
“We will be discussing making up for instruction time very soon,” said Lansberry.
The district’s indoor air quality specialist from Mountain Research LLC is assessing the situation in the district’s other buildings, Lansberry said.
“We are working with them to look at all of our schools to make sure that everybody remains safe,” Lansberry said.
Jeff Tech students and Penn State classes will continue as normal.