TOPTON, Pa. - After several failed attempts, the first day of school finally got underway Tuesday for students at Brandywine Elementary School, albeit not at their actual school.
A persistent mold problem has kept the elementary doors closed and forced students to go to makeshift classrooms in the middle school.
The school district commissioned a cleaning company to clean the carpets three separate times throughout this summer.
But after each occasion, the elementary school continued seeing signs of mold and it kept failing air quality tests. So now the district has come up with a different plan to solve this problem.
"The air quality experts, the gentleman that has been the lead for this and our contact, he's been doing it for 30 years and says he's never experienced a situation like this," said Brandywine Heights Superintendent Andrew Potteiger.
The district first noticed a problem in 18 classrooms at the elementary school.
After multiple cleanings, they contained the problem to eight classrooms. Parents say they are not sure how long this problem will continue.
"There are a lot of rumors about how long this will last. Five to eight weeks I have heard. I just want to get that straight and see what is going on and make sure I know first hand," said parent Julie Pummer.
For now, all elementary school students will have class in the middle school while the school district rips up all the carpet at Brandywine Elementary and replaces it with tile or polished concrete. Whatever the school does, parents say they hope it is done quickly.
"I hope before mid-October. But that might be wishful thinking," said Pummer.
With the first day of school done, the superintendent says he hopes things at the middle school will move smoothly until they can get all 450 children back into their rightful classrooms.
"It is my hope that parents are understanding. I realize it is not a great situation. But I am asking for flexibility and patience. I think so far the community has been very supportive," said Potteiger.
So far the district has spent $82,000 on all the cleaning, air quality tests and partial removal of the carpets.
They are now looking to move forward as quickly as possible to getting a contractor in the building and renovating.
Allentown, PA 18102