Mold that grows within facilities and goes untreated can trigger asthma and cause a host of health problems for building occupants, including respiratory infections and eye and throat irritations.

When the Philadelphia School District received a report in early October 2017, of “possible mold” at an elementary school, within hours the district closed the school, saying it found “traces of mold” in several classrooms, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Building inspectors found more than 600 square feet of mold in 10 classrooms and an additional 400 square feet of the fungus in 15 other places at a 650-student school, including hallways, bathrooms, and closets.

As far back as 2015, teachers repeatedly alerted district and union officials to mold, leaking pipes, and ventilation problems.

In November 2015, after teachers complained of respiratory problems and illness, the school district and the teachers’ union discovered widespread mold on chairs, desks, and ceiling pipes. It was so extensive in music rooms that the spaces were deemed “unusable,” according to a report prepared by an environmental scientist for the teachers’ union.

District spokesman Kevin Geary said when the district first learned of “some potential issues” with mold, technicians went to investigate within an hour. The problem was caused by heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning malfunctions, he said.

Steps to remediate the mold have been taken by school superintendent William R. Hite Jr. “We will have someone out there ASAP to look into this,” says Hite. ​​“The safety and health of our students and staff is our highest priority,” said Geary. “The School District will not reopen the school until it is mold-free.”

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